Diet is an important way to manage diabetes. Find out the five best fruits for diabetics to eat, the ones to avoid, and other great tips on snacks.
It’s no secret that food has a big impact on people with diabetes and their blood sugar levels. That's why it’s important to know what kinds of foods are beneficial, and which to steer clear of. Here, we look at the best fruits and snacks to eat, and some to avoid. This can be especially helpful for those days when you’re out and about and away from the routine of home and food choices there.
We can apply a few rules of thumb, but it’s really important to be confident in snack planning that is best suited to your personal health needs. Connecting with an accredited dietitian to receive that honed guidance is a great way to be able to manage diabetes whilst having the energy and freedom to enjoy your life.
Fruit is an easy, healthy and affordable option. Whole, fresh fruit contains fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and can be purchased almost anywhere if you have access to a supermarket. When we consider the effects on your blood glucose levels, it is the portion size that plays an important role. One serve is roughly equal to one medium piece of fruit (for example, an apple, banana or orange) or two small pieces (for example, an apricot, plum or kiwi fruit) or one cup of diced fruit.
As a general rule, it is recommended to have two serves of fruit per day. So, as you can see from the guide here, it’s important with those daily intake guidelines not to overdo the fruity snack quantities.
Five best fruits for diabetics
While fruit is a healthy choice, people living with diabetes are best to speak to a health professional like one of the integratedliving dietitians for tailored guidance about the options listed.
- Apple – a small container of apple slices is a great snack option (squeeze lemon over the slices to stop them going brown...this brown colour is a natural oxidising process and is harmless, but not very appetising).
- Pear – a softer, slightly less acidic alternative to apple.
- Mandarin – packed with Vitamin C and fibre.
- Strawberries – high in Vitamin C, low Glycemic Index (GI) which stops blood sugars from spiking quickly.
- Blueberries – considered one of nature’s superfoods, high in antioxidants.
Fruits for diabetics to avoid
Not all fruits are built the same! Some fruit is higher in Glycemic Index, meaning blood sugars will spike too quickly for someone managing diabetes. Try to avoid:
- Overly ripe bananas
- Dried fruit with added sugar
- Any kind of concentrated fruit juice
Snacking can be a part of your healthy diabetes management plan. Snacks can help you meet your nutritional needs, stabilise blood sugar levels and satisfy hunger between meals. Some people find they don’t need to eat between their meals, and that is okay too.
More healthy snack options
There are plenty of healthy options other than fruit, and there are ample ways to keep them handy and fresh on those busy days away from home. These include:
- A boiled egg for protein, stored in a cooler bag with ice.
- Mixed nuts – try a small handful of unsalted raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds for a hit of gut-filling fibre and protein.
- Plain high-protein yoghurt – a small cup portion or a convenient squeeze tube. Choose the no-added sugar option. Remember to keep this chilled in your cooler bag.
- A slice of delicious cheddar cheese – add this to the cooler bag with the boiled egg if you’re planning a few snack options.
- Plain crackers like Vita Weats or Ryvita with vegemite, cheese or a nut butter (check the label to ensure the nut butter is 100% nuts without additives).
- A slice of grainy bread with a low-GI topping such as peanut butter, or raisin bread with olive-oil spread.
- A container with carrot cut into snack sticks, cucumber slices, celery sticks and cherry tomatoes.
For personalised advice around snacking and your diabetes, it is best to speak with a dietitian such as one of the team at integratedliving.
Forgot to take a healthy snack with you? Here are some readily available options while you’re out and about:
- A small plain or flavoured milk such as Up & Go.
- A small tub of plain yoghurt.
- Fresh fruit – often located at the counter right under your nose!
- Fresh sandwiches.
- A small packet of plain popcorn – read the label to check for sneaky sugar additions.
- Healthy vege chips – often found in the less-than-healthy crisps section.
- Mixed dry roasted nuts.
Final rules of thumb to help you plan:
- Choose high-fibre whole foods like fruit and vegetables.
- Protein is your friend to feel fuller for longer, helping to stabilise your blood glucose levels.
- Opt for low Glycemic Index snacks where possible – slow-release sugars prevent spikes and crashes in your energy. Berries, apple slices and mixed nuts are great to pack for when you’re on the move.
Thank you Lauren, it’s also worth noting that the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported a decline in type two diabetes in Australia by a significant 43% over the last two decades between 2000 and 2021, countering the global increase reported in 2019 by the Global Burden of Disease study. It is suggested by the Institute, this improvement in type two diabetes incidence in Australia is potentially partly due to the public being educated about the linkages between diet management and the chronic disease. Preventative screening, awareness campaigns and early intervention education programs are believed to be leading lifestyle changes in the broader community.
Organisations such as Diabetes Australia also provide peer support and generalist guidance with current updates and resources available for people living with diabetes.
More articles to read next
6 Strategies for Boosting a Senior's Emotional Wellbeing
Find out what works to promote emotional wellbeing in older loved ones. Do you worry about the mental health of elderly loved ones? Learn strategies that work.