Fruits, diabetes and weightloss.

It is true that fruits are primarily rich in simple sugar carbohydrates like fructose and glucose but they are also an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If you have diabetes or trying to lose weight then you probably avoid carbohydrate or sugar rich foods but when it becomes quite confusing when it comes to fruits. Many people believe that because fruits are generally sweet, they may not be a suitable for people suffering from diabetes and others confine them to the occasional ‘cheat meal’ days but organizations like American Diabetes Association and The British Diabetic Association recommends diabetics to have fruit as part of their diet. Why is that? Let’s find out!

But what about the sugars?!

Over consumption of fructose and glucose is definitely bad for health and many experts believe that having a diet rich in fructose can not only lead to diabetes but also significantly increase heart disease and cancer risks; In fact some evidence suggest that fructose is more harmful than glucose when consumed in processed foods like sodas, baked items and fast food.

One important point to note is that processed foods have high percentages of added sugars while fruits have comparatively low amounts plus fruits have nutrients like fibers and minerals which processed food usually lack. In fact most fruits are 3-15% sugars and 75-90% while the remainder is mostly fiber, therefore you’ll have to eat a lot of fruits to accumulate enough sugars in the gut to trigger harmful effects.

Yes to fruits!

Fiber eaten along with whole fruits gives you the feeling of fullness or satiety which reduces the amount of food you consume while slowing down release of sugars in your blood stream which averts sudden spike of insulin. Being rich in vitamins and minerals, fruit consumption can help avoid deficiency related diseases while antioxidants reduce cancer risks. Furthermore, the sugar in fruits can assist in suppressing sweet cravings for those trying hard to avoid calorie dense foods.

Fruit juices on the other hand have most of the fiber removed which can reverse the benefits plus most packed juices have added sugars as preservative along with other additives. A person can generally have more fruit juice than whole fruits which can magnify the amount of sugars consumed minus the regulating effects of fiber.

When to avoid

Although fruits are beneficial for most of us but there are rare cases when a person is unable to digest fructose due to Hereditary Fructose Intolerance (HFI) or Fructosuria; or when a person is on a very low carbohydrate diet (less than 20 grams per day) such as Keto diet. Some individuals also have issues digesting high fiber diets such as in some cases Irritable Bowel Syndrome who avoid high FODMAP foods. Avoiding fruits in these select circumstances is essential but rest of us can and should definitely add fruits as part of our healthy diet.

Case study: Mangoes

If you belong to South East Asia then you probably love this fruit like I do and would rather put on some weight than not have them. But what if I told you that you that they're not as damaging as you think. 100 gm of mango will provide you with approximately 60 calories, 2 gm of fiber, 23 gm of sugar while fulfilling 60% of daily vitamin C and 21% daily vitamin A requirements among other vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, mangoes are rich in antioxidants and can help alleviate constipation and promote healthy gut functioning. Even if you are on a very low carb diet or watching your sugar intake, 1 mango a day is not harmful, rather it can help keep sweet cravings at bay while providing you all the nutrients which sweets wont, making it easier to follow your diet.

The takeaway box

Research trials show reduced oxidative stress, blood pressure and improved glycemic control in diabetics which highlights the benefits of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals present in fruits along with fiber. Every fruit has its own set of virtue thus it is always a good idea to have a mixed bowl of colorful fruits in a day along with a balanced nutritious diet to reap maximum benefits while avoiding deficiencies; I also recommend consuming whole fruit with skin when possible as their skins are rich in antioxidants and fiber. For those trying to reduce their calorie intake, fruits are an excellent low calorie density choice while for most diabetic individuals having 1 cup of fruits a day is absolutely fine. If you want to enjoy some fruit juice then I would recommend you squeeze them fresh at home or buy the one without added sugars.

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