5 Fruits Diabetics Should Avoid – Why, and Their Glycemic Levels

Posted June 26, 2020 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

There are many foods that those with diabetes are recommended to avoid. So, a common question those with diabetes often have is, what fruits should a diabetic avoid?

Fruits, in general, have always been seen as healthy, but there might be some that have adverse effects on those with diabetes. So, this article will give a clear understanding of what fruits diabetics should avoid, and why! 

But first, here’s the quick list to give you a go-to answer, then we’ll get into more details.

What fruits should diabetic patients avoid? Mangoes, pineapples, oranges, cherries, and dried fruits are five main fruits diabetics should avoid. These five fruits have high carbohydrate content, which directly increases blood sugar levels. Out of all these, dry fruits carry the highest risk of high blood sugar because of high sugar concentration.

Living with diabetes adds a challenging layer to your life on its own. From the way your diet changes to your daily routines. Sometimes, even going out for a walk in the sun may need to be planned. So, eating patterns, diet, and one’s appetite is inevitably going to change.

Background on Fruits, Carbohydrates, and Blood Sugar Levels

Fruits Diabetics Should Avoid

Before getting into the details of the fruit’s diabetics should avoid, it’s important to know that’s it’s not just the sugar content in fruits that decides which fruits diabetes should avoid but also the profile of carbohydrates.

And for those unaware, when carbohydrates are taken, the body breaks these carbohydrates down and converts them into glucose. This glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream.

In those without diabetes, insulin acts as a lock and key mechanism for cells. So, insulin allows the cells to uptake the glucose in the bloodstream. The glucose can then be used for energy.

Unfortunately, in diabetes patients, the cells can’t respond to insulin (type 2 diabetes), or the pancreas loses the ability to make insulin (type 1 diabetes).

Therefore, those with diabetes will experience high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) after consuming carbohydrates. They require either medication to help their body respond better to insulin or insulin injections.

Glycemic Index of Fruits

When it comes to fruits, the best thing you can do is check the glycemic index of fruits. Glycemic index (GI) is a value-based system that ranks how fast carbohydrate-based foods, including fruits, can increase blood sugar levels.

So, the goal should be to avoid fruits and limit the intake of fruits that have a high GI and include more fruits that have a low GI. 

A ranking of 20 – 49 is considered low GI, a ranking of 50 – 69 is regarded as a moderate GI, whereas a ranking of 70 -100 is on the high GI end. So, fruits that have a GI ranking of 70 -100 should be avoided in general by diabetes patients, as they are more likely to increase blood sugar.

Here’s a quick table showing popular fruits and their glycemic index score.

FruitApprox. GI Score
Grapefruit25
Cherries20
Mango51
Dried Apricots32
Apple39
Oranges40
Pears38
Strawberries41
Plums40
Peaches43
Prunes40
Banana51
Plantain/green banana55
Pineapple59
Watermelon76
Strawberry jam/jelly49
Apple Juice41
Orange juice50
Based on an average of all available data
Source, Source2

So, with that background set, let’s take a look at a handful of the fruit’s diabetics should avoid.

Mangoes 

Mangoes are certainly delicious, but they also do have natural sugar contained in them, which makes them a definite no for most serious diabetes sufferers.

Besides this, mangoes also have a high profile of carbohydrates. So, the high sugar and carbohydrate content in mangoes makes it very prone to increasing blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. 

It is estimated that just one mango has 46 grams of sugar and 50 grams of carbohydrates. Therefore, a person with diabetes may notice a dramatic spike in their blood sugar after eating a mango.

Fruits Diabetics Should Avoid

If a diabetic patient does incorporate mangoes in their diet, then it’s advised that they avoid having mangoes in the evening or at night. It’s also recommended to avoid eating mangoes if you already have high blood sugar.

If a diabetic patient is considering having mangoes, then they should consider cutting other carbohydrates, such as bread or pasta, out of their diet.

Pineapple 

Pineapple also has a greater combination of sugar and carbohydrate content, which will increase blood sugar levels.

Each cup of raw pineapples has 22 grams of carbohydrates, and a whole pineapple will have close to 120 grams of carbs. Pineapples that come canned and dipped in heavy syrup contains as much as 51 grams of carbohydrates per one cup of serving.

These carbohydrates in the syrup, added with the natural sugar of pineapples, can spike up blood sugar levels immensely. 

If a diabetes patient plans on having pineapples, it’s recommended to stick to a ¾ cup. And it’s always advisable to eat fresh pineapple over frozen, canned, or sugar-coated pineapple, as the latter may also have a more concentrated sugar. 

Similar to mangoes, because of the high carbohydrate in pineapples, it’s advised to avoid any other additional carbs alongside pineapples. 

Oranges 

Oranges have good water content when compared to other fruits. So, to understand how exactly oranges may increase blood sugar levels, it’s important to know how much of the total carbohydrates there are in one orange.

On a rough approximation, one raw orange has about 16 grams of carbohydrates, of which about 9 grams are sugar.

The average orange has around 3 grams of fiber content. Unlike other types of carbohydrate content, fiber doesn’t increase blood sugar. So, when subtracting these 3 grams of fiber from the 16 grams of carbohydrates, roughly a raw orange is then left with around 13 grams of carbohydrates. 

For an easy comparison, a slice of white bread has approximately 11.5 grams of carbohydrates. So, this means the larger the orange – the larger the intake of carbohydrates, resulting in increased blood sugar.

Cherries

Cherries are another sweet fruit that carries the burden of sugar and carbohydrates and must be avoided by diabetes patients. But there are two types of cherries – sweet and tart (sour) cherries – which may have different impacts on one’s blood sugar.

Sour cherries have fewer carbohydrates when compared to sweet cherries. One cup of sour cherries provides around 19 grams of carbohydrates – which is equivalent to around 5 teaspoons of sugar. 

One cup of sweet cherries on the other hand contains about 25 grams of carbohydrates. This is equivalent to over 6 teaspoons of sugar!

So, it’s always recommended for diabetics to opt for tart cherries as it can be tolerated by those suffering from diabetes. And if they go with sweet cherries, a serving of a ½ cup would be approaching the maximum recommended amount for diabetes patients.

Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are not fresh fruits, and they have the greatest risk of increasing blood sugar levels. The main reason for this is dried fruits are a concentrated version of fresh fruits. So, in their concentrated forms, every content of the fruit increases.

This happens because the water content is lost from these fruits, causing other contents like minerals, nutrients, and even sugar to become concentrated.

One good example is the difference between grapes and raisins in the number of carbs they deliver.

One cup of grapes contains about 27.3 grams of carbohydrates, whereas one cup of raisins has a higher concentration of carbohydrates up to 114.8 grams per cup.

So, one cup of raisins quadruples the carbohydrate load compared to that of eating one cup of grapes. Therefore, when a diabetes patient is choosing between having grapes or raisins, it’s wiser to choose grapes. However, grapes, like the other fruits discussed, can cause a spike in blood sugar because of the carbohydrate content.

If you are going to eat dried fruits, it is best to find the ones that do not have any added sugar. Also, limit your servings to avoid major spikes in blood sugar levels.

Note – it’s also not recommended to eat processed fruits like jams and apricots as they too have a high content of sugar, which will increase blood sugar levels.

Fruits Diabetics Should Avoid – General

Generally speaking, it’s a long-held myth that diabetes patients should avoid eating all fruits. Everyone knows that fruits are a healthy source of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Avoiding these entirely is near impossible, and it can actually deprive your body of some required antioxidants, folate, bioflavonoids, and potassium.

So, it all comes down to not necessarily avoiding certain fruits, but how much of such sugary fruits you should consume. All in all, every fruit contains carbohydrates, and you should know how each fruit affects you specifically and take steps to keep your blood sugar under control.

To Close

We hope this has been useful in understanding a little more about what fruits mean for diabetics and what fruits diabetics should avoid.

As always, you should consult your practitioner, or diabetes specialist when determining your diet plans.

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Our team here works directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide individuals with their medications at a set, affordable cost. Enroll with us and start paying just $50 a month for each medication.

Can diabetics eat fruit?

Diabetics can eat fruit, but they must ensure they track the amount of carbohydrates that are in the fruit. Certain fruits contain high amounts of natural sugars that can spike blood sugar. But many fruits are also high in fiber, which can be beneficial in helping those with diabetes control blood sugar levels.

What fruits can a diabetic eat?

Diabetics can eat just about any fruit, as long as they are able to carb count and have the medication necessary to keep their blood glucose levels stable. However, certain fruits are particularly beneficial, which include berries, apples, pears, kiwi, apricots, and peaches.



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