Diabetic – The Best and Worst Fruits for Metabolic Syndrome

Diabetes is a serious medical condition that affects blood sugar regulation. Choosing the right foods can help manage diabetes, and fruit is often considered a healthy option. However, not all fruits are created equal when it comes to diabetes. This article will examine the best and worst fruits for diabetics based on sugar content, fiber, glycemic index, and glycemic load.

Understanding Carbohydrates in Fruit

Fruits contain carbohydrates, which can impact blood sugar levels. However, there are important differences between carbohydrates that affect their health impacts.

The Issues with Sugar

Sugar is made up of two different sugar molecules – glucose and fructose. Glucose directly raises blood sugar, while fructose is processed by the liver and can contribute to fatty liver disease. Table sugar contains 50% glucose and 50% fructose.

Many fruits also contain around a 50/50 mix of glucose and fructose sugars. So while fruit sugar may be “natural”, it can still pose health risks, especially for diabetics.

The Role of Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not broken down and absorbed. So high fiber foods effectively have less digestible carbs. Fiber also helps slow the absorption of sugar, resulting in a more gradual blood sugar response.

Fruits with more fiber relative to sugar are healthier options.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly blood sugar rises after eating a food. Low GI foods (under 55) cause a more gradual rise, while high GI foods (over 70) spike blood sugar rapidly.

Glycemic load accounts for typical serving sizes. It multiplies the GI by the grams of digestible carbs per serving. A glycemic load under 10 is considered low.

GI and glycemic load can help compare different fruit options. However, the total carb and sugar content is most important for diabetes management.

The Best Fruits for Diabetics

When selecting fruit, diabetics should prioritize options that are very low in sugar and carbs. Some examples of the best fruits include:


Avocados are technically fruits but have a fat-like texture and flavor. A 100 gram serving has only 0.8 grams of sugar and 2 grams of net carbs. Avocados are excellent for diabetes.


Olives are another fruit popularly eaten more like a vegetable. They contain minimal carbs and sugar. About 3 grams of net carbs per 100 grams. Olives are a great diabetic choice.


Tomatoes are also botanically fruits. A 100 gram raw tomato has just over 2 grams of net carbs and sugar. Make sure to account for any added sugar in sauces or salsas. But fresh tomatoes are a low carb option.


Citrus fruits like lemons and limes provide tart flavor with little effect on blood sugar. There’s only about 1.5 grams of sugar and 3 grams of carbs per average fruit. The glycemic load is negligible.


Berries like raspberries and blackberries are reasonably low in sugar, with 4-5 grams per 100 gram serving. They also contain ample fiber to blunt the sugar impact. The low glycemic load makes these berries a great choice.

Fruits to Eat in Moderation for Diabetics

Some fruits are higher in sugar and carbs, but can still be incorporated in moderation into a diabetic diet. Portion control is important with these fruits. Some better options include:


Cherries contain about 13 grams of sugar per 100 gram serving. But they have a low glycemic index, so the glycemic load is moderate. An occasional small serving of cherries is ok.


Blueberries have around 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams. Their fiber content helps slow sugar absorption. Limit portions to about 1/2 cup.


Apricots have approximately 9 grams of sugar and a low glycemic index. One small apricot is a reasonable serving.


Grapefruit has a favorable sugar and fiber balance compared to other citrus. Half a grapefruit makes a good portion with about 7 grams of sugar.

Worst Fruits for Diabetics

Some fruits are so high in sugar and carbohydrates that they should be avoided or very strictly limited by diabetics. These include:


Dates are often touted as healthy, but that’s not the case for diabetics. A 100 gram serving contains a whopping 75 grams of sugar, which is extremely dangerous for blood sugar control.


Raisins are simply dried grapes, so their sugar content is very concentrated. There are about 60 grams of sugar per 100 gram serving. That’s more sugar than most candy bars!


Mangos can have up to 20 grams of sugar for a 100 gram portion. And they lack fiber to help mitigate the sugar load. It’s best to avoid mangos if you have diabetes.


Pineapples are lower in sugar than other tropical fruits but still have around 12 grams per 100 gram serving. They also don’t provide much fiber. So pineapples should be limited.


Bananas are touted as a healthy portable fruit option. But a medium banana has 14 grams of sugar and 20 grams of total carbs. Bananas can spike blood sugar quite a bit.


Apples are often singled out as a “good” fruit for diabetics. But they still have 10-15 grams of sugar for a medium apple, which is quite high. They do contain some fiber, but there are better fruit choices.

Fruit Juices

Fruit juices like orange juice or apple juice contain all the sugar of whole fruit without the fiber. Juices cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and should be avoided.

Key Takeaways: Fruits contain high amounts of sugar

  • Fruits can contain high amounts of sugar, which can be problematic for diabetes management. Pay attention to total carb and sugar content.
  • Fiber helps blunt the impact of sugar in fruit. Prioritize high fiber options.
  • Fruit with the lowest sugar, glycemic index, and glycemic load are the best choices.
  • Portion control is important. Limit high sugar fruits and avoid the worst offenders.
  • Always account for any added sugars in prepared fruit products.

With thoughtful selection and appropriate portions, fruit can still be part of an overall healthy diet for diabetics. But being aware of the best and worst options based on their carb and sugar content is crucial for blood sugar control.

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