Can I Eat Fruit If I Have Diabetes? 4 Compelling Reasons You Should!

Extreme low-carb diets skimp on fruit because, they claim, fruit contains natural sugars that turn into sugar in the body. It's true that all carbohydrates from food eventually end up as blood glucose-including the carbs in fruit. That said, fruit has a much lower impact on blood sugar levels than other truly harmful foods like candy bars and soda. That's because, like vegetables, fruit is mostly water. What isn't water is fiber, and that fiber slows the progression of fruit sugars into the bloodstream, causing a slow, steady rise in blood sugar rather than a huge spike.

Here's more: Fruit isn't just not bad for your diabetes. It's good for it, and for your waistline too.

1. Fruit fights inflammation. Peaches, plums, and nectarines contain special nutrients called phenolic compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds travel through the bloodstream and then to your fat cells, where they affect different genes and proteins for the better, finds research done at Texas A&M University.

2. Fruit prevents diabetes. Flavonoids are nutrients found in plant foods, and especially in many types of fruit. Research shows that these compounds can lower the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, probably because these nutrients improve insulin sensitivity. Harvard's long-running Nurses' Health Study found that women who consumed more anthocyanins (the pigment that makes blueberries blue and strawberries red) were much less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women who consumer fewer of these health-promoting compounds.

3. Fruit slims you down. New research suggests fruits may actually be more important than vegetables when it comes to long-term weight loss. A Utah State University study followed the eating habits of 77 overweight and obese individuals to see what effects fruit consumption would have on their weight. Months later, when the researchers crunched all the data, they determined that it was fruit that was the deciding factor in weight loss.

The more fruit people ate, the more weight people lost. This study is no anomaly. When a Danish team looked at all the available studies about fruit and body weight, they found that, out of 16 studies, two indicated that eating more fruit helps you lose weight; five found that eating more fruit reduces your risk of gaining weight or becoming obese; and four studies found the same inverse association as the Utah study: the more fruit you eat, the fewer pounds you weigh.

4. Fruit bolsters health. Along with vegetables, fruit protects against heart disease, stroke, and cancers of the stomach and colon. It also helps fend off depression, which is common in people with diabetes.

Sold? We sure hope so. One way to ensure you consume more fruit is this: Shop local. Local produce (fresh, juicy, and full of sun-ripened flavor) is everywhere these days, thanks to the increasing popularity of farmers' markets, backyard gardens, and community gardens. This food trend can motivate you to eat more produce, reaping the big weight-control and health benefits.

Recent research shows that the experience of growing produce or shopping at a farmstand inspires people to eat more fruits and vegetables. If you're among the many adults who aren't eating the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recommended 2 to 2.5 cups of vegetables and 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit a day, getting up close and personal with your produce could help.

  •   Erin Palinkski-Wade, RD, CDE and Alisa Bowman from The 2-Day Diabetes Diet

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