Can I eat fruit if I have diabetes?

Editor's Note: This Q&A was updated on February 24, 2013

Question: I've heard fruit has a lot of sugar in it. Can I eat fruit if I have diabetes?

Answer: Fruits are an extremely nutrient-packed food group. They are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals and are also low in calories and virtually fat and sodium-free. And yes, they do contain a type of sugar called fructose. Like sucrose and glucose, (i.e. table sugar, and the sugar found in sodas, candy, etc.) fructose does cause blood sugar to rise. However, unlike pastries, sodas, and the like, the sugar in fruit is balanced with an array of nutrients making it still a healthy food.

The key to including fruit in your diet and maintaining stable blood sugar levels is to control your portions. Limit your intake of fruit to 2 to 3 servings a day. A serving of fruit is approximately the following:

  1. One medium piece of fruit, such as an apple or orange
  2. 1/2 cup of cut-up fruit such as melon or grapes
  3. 2 tablespoons of dried fruit, such as raisins

If you keep track of your carbohydrate intake, a serving equals 15 grams of carbs. In addition, choose whole fruits vs. fruit juice, and when choosing canned or frozen fruit be sure to select those with no added sugars, syrups, or sauces.

Grapefruit juice-drug interaction. Grapefruit juice has been shown to interact with 85 medications on the market. A list is available from the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

NOTE: After consuming fruit, blood sugar levels can vary from person to person. Depending on how your blood glucose levels react, you may need to adjust the portion size or potentially remove that fruit from your diet. If you have any questions or concerns about any type of fruit in your diet, be sure to discuss them with your physician.

Ask your physician or pharmacist about potential food-drug interactions if you are prescribed a new medication. Some foods can potentially interact with medications.


About Heidi McIndoo

Heidi McIndoo, MS is a registered dietitian who has been counseling women, men, and children about healthy eating for twenty years. She firmly believes food should be enjoyed and all foods can fit into a healthy diet -- it's just a matter of how much and how often.

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