The Best Fruits For Type 2 Diabetes: Managing Type 2 Diabetes With Diet

A common misconception is that you can’t eat fruits if you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This is frequently spread (and believed) because fruits are known to have sucrose, a substance that combines glucose and fructose, the two types of sugars that raise blood sugar levels.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has debunked this misconception and reported that you can consume fruits even if you have been diagnosed with diabetes type 2. They say that you should add fruits as part of carbohydrates in your meals. In fact, a 2017 study¹ shows that taking more fruits lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Fruits contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are good for your overall health. Fiber content is essential for blood sugar regulation and lowers the risks of type 2 diabetes. While most fruits provide high nutritional value, not all fruit-based foods are considered the best nutritional options for people with diabetes.

Processed fruits, for example, contain added sugar that can spike your blood sugar levels. The ADA recommends taking fresh fruits or those packed in their own juices since they are much healthier and nutritious.

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Fruits and glycemic index

It’s important to be selective about the types of fruits you eat if you’re living with type 2 diabetes. One way to ensure that is by checking their glycemic index (GI) values.

GI classifies how fast carbohydrates in foods increase blood sugar levels, with a rating scale of 1 to 100. The higher the score, the faster the food increases your blood sugar levels.

In addition to the low glycemic index, fruits have many nutrients that can benefit people with diabetes in the long term.

The best fruits for a type 2 diabetes diet are those with a medium or low GI, such as the following.

Apples

Apples can indeed keep the doctor away and diabetes at bay. Even though there are 2500 varieties of apples, there are no bad ones. These are delicious and highly nutritious fruits with several health benefits since they contain high levels of:

  • Fiber

  • Polyphenols

  • Several antioxidants

  • Vitamin C

Most of the apple’s nutrient value comes from the skin, so you have to consume it if you really want to get nutrient levels to the fullest. 

In addition, apples contain water, which makes them surprisingly filling. They also contain 25 grams of carbohydrates that easily raise your blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, out of the 27 grams of carbohydrates, 4.8 grams are fibers that slow down carbohydrate absorption and digestion, reducing their chances of spiking your blood sugar levels.

In fact, apples have a low glycemic index.

Apples contain polyphenols that lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and other diseases. These substances improve your ability to effectively utilize insulin, helping your body absorb more sugar and energy. 

Regularly consuming apples may reduce resistance to insulin, resulting in low blood sugar levels.

They contain anthocyanin, a flavonoid, which is a substance with antioxidant properties responsible for giving the apple its red color. Anthocyanin is significant in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.

Berries

Berries are fleshy fruits that are rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants that boost memory and reduce inflammation. Berries also rank lower on GI, making them a good choice for people with type 2 diabetes.

Research² on commonly consumed blueberries has found that they have positive effects on people with diabetes. They contain high levels of phytochemicals that help increase insulin in the body.

Current evidence³ supports that consuming 250 grams of raspberries (red) can significantly lower the risk of post-meal insulin and blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes. People who consume more raspberries have less risk of developing diabetes.

Avocados

Avocados contain about 20 different types of vitamins and minerals. In 201 grams of avocado, you will get the following

  • Vitamin C—22% of the daily value (DV)

  • Vitamin K—28% of the DV

  • Folate—41% of the DV

  • Potassium—485 mg

  • Fiber—14 grams

  • Carbs—17 grams

  • Fats—30 grams

The low carbohydrate and high fiber content make avocados a healthy choice for people with type 2 diabetes. The fiber slows down the absorption and digestion of carbohydrates in the blood. Eating avocado with other foods can significantly lower the chances of spikes in blood sugar levels.

Before adding avocados, you should consider calorie intake. Depending on the size, a single serving of avocado contains up to 300 calories.

If you are counting calories to lose or maintain weight, you can still consume avocados. According to ADA, you should add avocados into your diet if you have type 2 diabetes due to the presence of healthy fats.

These healthy fats are called monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which raise the good cholesterol and lower the bad cholesterol. Research shows that good cholesterol helps lower the risk of stroke and heart diseases, which diabetics are twice as likely to get. In fact, people with diabetes are more likely to die from heart diseases and stroke.

Pears

Pears contain the following types of nutrients that help control type 2 diabetes:

  • Potassium — 206 mg

  • Fiber (small )— 4.6 grams

  • Vitamin C — 7.65 grams

  • Carbohydrates — 27 grams

Pears have a GI of between 20 and 49 due to the high fiber content. A small pear contains 4.6 grams of fiber, which is about 20% of the amount of fiber you need to consume each day. 

According to research, people at risk of type 2 diabetes who consumed fruits and food high in anthocyanin, including pears, lowered their risk of developing the disease. Furthermore, the flavonoids, vitamin C and K, and copper in pears fight inflammation, which can lower any complications related to type 2 diabetes.

Pear is best consumed as a whole fruit instead of juice for maximum health benefits, especially for those at risk of developing diabetes.  

Kiwi

Kiwi contains various nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins K, C, and E. Vitamin C is known to improve immunity, lower the risk of high blood pressure, and control diabetes.

Kiwi fruits also have a lower GI and high fiber content, which significantly slows down the rate of absorption and digestion of sugar in the bloodstream. The high fiber content helps eliminate bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

Peaches

Peaches are a warm-weather treat that you need to include in your diet if you have diabetes. You can consume the fruit on its own or twist it whichever way you like. 

According to USDA, a medium peach contains:

  • Calories — 59 kcal

  • Vitamin C — 10 mg

  • Potassium — 285 mg

  • Carbohydrates — 14 grams

Peaches are a great fruit to include in your meal plans because of the low levels of carbohydrates. In addition, its high levels of potassium help lower the risk of diabetes and control the disease for those who have it. 

Research⁴ shows that peaches contain bioactive compounds and antioxidants, which are known to inhibit enzymes that cause type 2 diabetes.

Apricots

Apricots have a GI of 34, which makes them among the best fruits to consume if you have type 2 diabetes. Apricots are high in:

  • Copper

  • Fiber

  • Manganese

  • Potassium

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin C

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits contain a GI of between 40 to 43, making them safe for people with type 2 diabetes. They are high in:

  • Fiber 

  • Folate

  • Potassium

  • Vitamin C

All the combined nutrients can nourish your body and keep diseases that can increase the risk of spiking blood glucose levels at bay. In addition, the natural sugar in citrus fruits makes them safe for satisfying your sweet tooth. 

Citrus fruits also contain substances that help in glycemic control and fight chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Plant-based compounds aid in antioxidant functions, which counter oxidative stress. 

A 2015 study⁵ shows that citrus fruits are linked to weight loss because of their low-calorie content. If you have type 2 diabetes, losing weight can help you go into diabetes remission.

Pineapples

Pineapples contain a medium GI of 59; a large percentage of the fruit is water, so a 120-gram serving has a low glycemic load of 6. The low GI and high fiber content make pineapples safe for people with type 2 diabetes.

Pineapples also contain a bromelain-proteolytic enzyme, which promotes good health and lowers the risk of diabetes.

Pineapples are high in the following nutrients:

  • Fiber

  • Iron

  • Magnesium

  • Potassium

  • Vitamins C, B12, and A

Papayas

Papaya is considered a medium GI fruit, which means it contains organic sugar and must be consumed in moderation. The fruit has a high amount of dietary fibers, which help slow down glucose uptake in the bloodstream.

Papayas have flavonoids and high levels of antioxidants, which inhibit oxidative stress. Oxidative stress facilitates the development of complications related to diabetes. That said, papaya can cause spikes in blood glucose levels if consumed in excess.

Plums

Plums are fat-free fruits that contain various nutrients. One plum has:

  • Calories — 67 kcal

  • Iron — 0.78 mg

  • Potassium — 228 mg

  • Protein — 0.8 gram

  • Fiber — 2 grams

  • Carbohydrates — 18 grams

  • Vitamin C

Even though plums are low in calories, you need to watch out for the number of carbs you consume each day. Whether you are eating one plum or a handful, you need to include them as part of the carbs in your meal plan. 

The soluble fiber in plums helps control diabetes by emptying the stomach at slow rates. Plums also contain flavonoids, which reduce insulin resistance.  

Dates

Despite how sweet they are, dates are considered among fruits with low GI, making them safe for people with type 2 diabetes.

You can comfortably eat up to 10 dates without causing a spike in your blood sugar level. However, dates have a high amount of calories, so if you are watching your weight, eat them in moderation.

Dates also contain:

  • Calories — 66.5 kcal

  • Fiber — 1.61 grams 

  • Sugar — 16 grams 

  • Carbohydrates — 18 grams

When combined, all these nutrients work together to help prevent insulin resistance. 

Furthermore, dates contain magnesium, which helps in controlling diabetes. Studies⁶ have indicated that patients with type 2 diabetes have low amounts of magnesium. In other words, consuming high amounts of magnesium may prevent the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Prunes

Prunes have high fiber content and a low GI of 29.

An unhealthy eating style is bad for diabetics. Prunes help you feel fuller, which can help in weight loss. The fruit also doesn’t have cholesterol, making it a good addition to your weight loss plan.

In addition, a cup of prunes (174 grams) contains the following nutrients that contribute to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes:

  • Calcium — 74.8 mg

  • Potassium — 232 mg

  • Protein — 3.8 grams

  • Fiber — 12.4 grams

  • Carbohydrates — 111 grams

Cantaloupes

Cantaloupes have both immediate and long-term benefits on people for everyone. Their moderate GI and high levels of fiber and vitamins make them safe for people with type 2 diabetes or those at risk of developing the disease.

According to the USDA, cantaloupes contain the following nutrients:

  • Fiber — 1 gram

  • Protein — 1 gram

  • Sugar — 13 grams

  • Carbohydrates — 14 grams

  • Sodium — 26 grams

The various nutrients in cantaloupes can help control and prevent the risks of getting high sugar levels and high blood pressure.

Mangoes

A single cup of sliced mango contains:

  • Calories — 107 kcal

  • Vitamin A — 25% of DV

  • Vitamin C — 76% of DV

  • Potassium — 257 mg

  • Protein — 1 gram 

  • Fiber — 3 grams

  • Sugar — 24 grams

Mangoes also have a medium GI of 51, making them a healthier choice for people with type 2 diabetes. A large percentage of calories from a mango comes from its sugar contents, which can spike your blood sugar levels. 

However, mangoes still contain fiber that helps slow down the digestion and absorption of sugar. 

Guavas

Guavas can help prevent and regulate type 2 diabetes because it ranks low on the glycemic index scale. Guavas contain high levels of fibers.

Besides being an anti-inflammatory fruit, guavas are also packed with various nutrients such as:

  • Antioxidants 

  • Fiber

  • Potassium 

  • Vitamin C 

Guavas are low in calories, which can aid in weight loss and reduce the risk of diabetes complications. Guava has only 68 calories.

Also, the high vitamin C content in guavas helps strengthen your immunity and fight chronic diseases, including diabetes.

What portion size is okay for type 2 diabetes?

The amount of fruit you should consume will depend on the carb content of the fruit. A single serving of fruits contains about 15 grams of carbs. 

Portion sizes also count when it comes to other foods. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention⁷ has listed all carb counts and serving portions for everyday fruits and foods. You should talk to your doctor about what to eat and what to avoid to manage and control type 2 diabetes.

What about fresh fruit juice?

Eating fruits as a whole is much better compared to consuming fruit juices. A study⁸ has shown that fruit juices with added sugar are linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

If you must drink fruit juice, the ADA recommends not more than 4 ounces each day. The ADA also advises ensuring the juice does not contain artificial sugars as this may cause your blood sugar to spike.

Studies⁹ show that consumption of fruits as a whole, as opposed to fruit juices, does not increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Whole fruits contain high amounts of dietary fiber compared to fruit juices. 

The lowdown

Diabetes is a chronic illness that can be influenced acutely and chronically by the type of fruits you eat. You need to consume fruits for better type 2 diabetes management. If you have diabetes, don’t forget that controlling your carbs is one way of preventing blood sugar spikes.

When planning your meals, ensure you include only fruits with low or medium glycemic index and count them as carbs. Also, pay attention to the portion sizes to make sure you don’t raise your blood sugar levels. Eat whole fruits instead of drinking their juices, but if you can’t live without them, choose those without added sugar.

  1. Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-y prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults (2017)

  2. New research explores blueberries’ positive effects in men with type 2 diabetes | USHBC

  3. Effects of dietary red raspberry consumption on pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus parameters (2021)

  4. Stone fruit as biofactories of phytochemicals with potential roles in human nutrition and health | Frontiers

  5. Changes in intake of fruits and vegetables and weight change in United States men and women followed for up to 24 years: Analysis from three prospective cohort studies (2015)

  6. Dietary magnesium intake affects the association between serum vitamin D and type 2 diabetes: A cross-sectional study | Frontiers

  7. How to use fruits and vegetables to help manage your weight | Center for Disease Control and Prevention

  8. Intake of fruit juice and incidence of type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis (2014)

  9. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: Results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies (2013)

Other sources:

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