June 3, 2019

Can You Eat Fruit If You Have Diabetes?

10 tips for enjoying fruit on a diabetes diet

Woman eating bowl of mixed fruits for snack

Fragrant, fuzzy peaches. Juicy watermelon. Tart berries. There’s nothing like fresh-picked fruits available at a farmers market or produce stand near you.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

But is fruit bad for diabetics? If you have diabetes, you might be a little wary of nature’s candy and the sugars they hold. “But don’t be scared of fruit,” says dietitian Kim Pierce, RD.

Here are 10 things to know about fruit and diabetes, including how to make them part of your healthy diet.

Fruit is healthy

Yes, fruits contain carbohydrates. And, yes, the body processes carbs into sugars. But you need healthy carbs to fuel your brain and red blood cells, Pierce says.

Plus, fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. “Fruit contains nutrients that can lower your risk of cancer and heart disease,” she adds. “You should eat some every day.”

Fiber is your friend

Fruit does have natural sugars, but its high fiber content balances the sugars, Pierce explains. “Fiber slows down digestion. That helps us feel full longer and prevents spikes in blood sugar.”

Get your daily servings

Dietary guidelines recommend five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. That’s true whether or not you have diabetes, Pierce says. Since fruits have more calories and sugar than veggies, try to strike a balance. She recommends breaking up your five servings into three veggie servings and two fruit servings.

Advertisement

Eat whole fruit

“All fruit is fair game, but fresh is best,” Pierce says.

The best fruit for diabetics — and everyone, really — is fresh fruit. Whole fresh or frozen fruits should be your go-to, since they’re full of fiber and other nutrients.

Processed fruits like applesauce and canned fruits are the worst fruits for diabetics since they can increase blood sugar more quickly. Dried fruits can also be healthy, Pierce says, but watch your portion size. Two tablespoons of raisins contain as many grams of carbohydrates as a small apple.

Fruits to avoid for diabetics

As always, let nutrition labels be your guide. If you’re wondering what fruits to avoid in diabetes-friendly diets, skip fruits canned in syrup since that means added sugar. Some dried and frozen fruits can also have sugar added, so read the fine print.

Skip juice

Fruit juice has a lot of concentrated sugars without any fiber, so it can increase blood sugars quickly,” Pierce says. If you’re really craving juice, limit your portion to a half-cup serving.

Pay attention to portions

Fruit is healthy, but you still have to practice moderation, Pierce says. Try to space out your fruit throughout the day. (In other words, don’t eat an entire bag of grapes in one sitting.)

In general, one serving is a small- to medium-sized piece of whole fruit, or ¾ to 1 cup of fruit like melon or berries.

Advertisement

Choose smarter sweets

Fruit is a terrific option to satisfy a sweet tooth, says Pierce. One word of caution: If you’re craving something super-specific, like a brownie, it may be better to just eat a small piece of the chocolatey goodness. Otherwise, you might be circling back to fruits and other sweet things all day in a futile attempt to quash that craving.

What fruits are good for diabetics?

If you’re wondering what fruits are good for diabetics, it’s pretty much the same list as non-diabetics: eat the rainbow. Different colors of fruits and vegetables have different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. To get all the good stuff, look for a ROYGBIV of fruits (and veggies) — from red strawberries to deep purple blackberries (and all the colors in between).

Ask the experts

Fruit is part of a healthy diet, but it’s always smart to get guidance from nutrition experts before you dive into a bowl of watermelon. “Check in with a diabetes educator or a registered dietitian to develop a healthy meal plan,” Pierce advises.

Related Articles

female healthcare provider speaking with patient in medical setting
January 10, 2024
Can Too Much Sugar Cause Diabetes?

There is an indirect link between the sweet substance and the condition

person adding blueberries to bowl of granola cereal
January 8, 2024
Can People With Diabetes Have Sugar?

The short answer: Yes, but you need to eat it in moderation and keep track of how much you consume

person juicing fruits and vegetables
November 2, 2023
What You’re Losing When You’re Juicing

Juicing removes beneficial fiber from fruits and veggies and raises your blood sugar

beer glass sitting beside diabetes testing equipment
October 11, 2023
Diabetes and Alcohol: Do They Mix?

Blood glucose monitoring and drinking in moderation can help you avoid hypoglycemia

Grilled butternush squash on a white plate with kale and nuts sprinkled on top.
September 24, 2023
Foods To Eat for Diabetes-Related Macular Edema

Plant-based foods and healthy fats can help maintain and improve your eye health

male getting an annual check up
September 17, 2023
Most Common Health Issues for Men

It’s important to watch for and guard against conditions like heart disease and cancer

fried chicken and French fries
September 4, 2023
The Worst and Best Foods if You Have Diabetes

Sweet potatoes are great, but sweetened drinks aren’t so great

Spoon dropping artificial sweetener into cup of tea, while diabetes test strip floats at right.
August 29, 2023
Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe for People With Diabetes?

Some sweeteners may have health risks, so it’s best to keep your intake moderate

Trending Topics

close up of keto gummies
Do Keto Gummies Work for Weight Loss? Are They Safe?

Research is inconclusive whether or not these supplements are helpful

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

Older person postioned sideways showing dowager hump.
Dowager’s Hump: What It Is and How To Get Rid of It

The hump at the base of your neck may be caused by osteoporosis or poor posture

Ad