Fruits and Berries, Good Choices for Diabetic Menus

Diabetes and the diabetic
A person who has the disease called diabetes, lives with the knowledge that they have to be careful to not consume too many foods that are high in carbohydrates, sometimes referred to as “carbs”. Carbohydrates are the source of the sugars that cause the diabetic condition. The blood sugars are a problem for the diabetic because their body is unable to properly use the sugars in the normal way, like non-diabetic people do. In the case of the person with diabetes, too much of the sugar stays in their blood after eating instead of it being used by the cells of the body that need it.

The diabetic and fruit
For this reason, some people with diabetes are not keen to eat fruit, knowing that the sweetness of foods comes from the sugar called fructose. But in avoiding fruit, those diabetics are missing out on a nutritious source of food even though they do also contain sugars. The important thing for the diabetic who is willing to add fruits to their diabetic menu, is to be aware of how much carbohydrate they are consuming when they eat a particular serving of fruit.

The Mayo Clinic, a provider of quality health information, emphasizes that it is the amount of carbohydrate and not its source that matters, whether that be fruit or any other food item. It is necessary for the diabetic to keep consumption within the acceptable limits to enable the control and management of the diabetic condition.

Keeping track of carbs consumed
Many diabetics keep track and count the amounts of carbohydrates they eat by referring to them in quantities of 15-gram servings, knowing how many servings are appropriate to include in their meal or snack. Below is a list of fruits and berries that provide approximately 15-gram amounts of carbohydrates.

♦Apple, small ♦ Apple, half of a large ♦ Banana, small ♦ Banana, half of a large ♦ Peach, small ♦ Pear, half of a large ♦  Plums, 2 or 3 small ♦ Raspberries, 1 cup ♦ Strawberries, 1 and ¼ cups ♦ Watermelon, 1 and ¼ cups.

The Glycemic Index can also be used as a guide in assessing fruit selections, most fruits are ranked as “low” on the index and those would be the preferred choices. A list of fruits with glycemic index values can be found at: Fruits for the Diabetic Menu.

In summary, why fruits and berries are good for the diabetic menu
It is the nutritional content of fruits and berries that make them a very good choice for the diabetic menu. Fruits contain several essential vitamins and minerals together with dietary fiber that helps delay the absorption of their sugars into the bloodstream.

Fruits and Berries also have chemical compounds called phytonutrients, substances that occur naturally in plants that are thought to have a beneficial health affect for the human body. Recently published research, announced in the September 2010 meeting of the American Chemical Society, suggests that the polyphenol compounds in berries — they are anti-oxidants – are able to improve the declining cognitive abilities that occur in aged animals, in a way similar to that occurring in human beings. The assumption is that a parallel improvement might also apply to older humans too. If that is true, then the older diabetic has even more reason to include fruits and berries in their diabetic diet.

In addition, the recent findings support previous assumptions and conclusions that a berry-rich diet could promote processes in the brain that help remove toxins and clear other harmful compounds that accompany the natural progression of aging.

The sugar in fruits, fructose, is a little more complex in its chemical structure than is glucose, the form of sugar that is needed by the body’s cells. So for the body to be able to use the energy provided by fructose, it first has to be changed to the glucose form that the body can process, that is done by the liver and takes time. The result is that blood sugar levels to do not rise as quickly after eating fruit, and that is good.

And a final plus to bring to your attention

Studies have taken place that indicate fruit, when eaten at least 30 minutes before meals, may have an affect in reducing appetite somewhat and also reduce sugar cravings. And that might lead to fewer calories being consumed and when fewer calories are consumed it is easier to control weight or achieve weight loss. As a type-2 diabetic myself, that’s great news.

For more on diabetes topics, diabetic menu planning, and food choices, check out Diabetic Menu Guide.

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A Healthy Eater

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