One of the first things that diabetics learn when they are first diagnosed with the condition is that they need to pay extra attention to their diets. Unlike many healthy people, diabetics do not metabolize their food properly because their insulin either doesn’t get secreted well enough or isn’t sensitive enough to break food down optimally. Therefore, diabetics need to aim for having a low-carbohydrate diet in addition to exercising and taking their medications.
What is a carbohydrate and how does it impact diabetics?
Diabetics are advised to follow a low-carbohydrate diet as one way of managing their diabetes. Having a low carbohydrate diet means that diabetics should limit the amount of sugar that they consume, including refined sugars and foods that have a high level of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, after all, are a form of sugar – and visa versa. In order to pay attention to their nutrition, though, diabetics need to follow the food pyramid guidelines, which requires them to eat foods from all of the food groups, including vegetables, grains, fruits, and dairy.
While it is important to eat 2 to 4 servings of fruit a day, not all fruits are the same in terms of their carbohydrate levels. Carbohydrate levels are measured in terms of the Glycemic index, which is a basic metric for measuring how long it takes the body to break down certain foods. Foods that have a high level of carbohydrates also rank high on the Glycemic index.
Here’s a break-down of some common fruits and how they rank on the Glycemic index:
Fruits with a high Glycemic index:
Ripe bananas (60)
Fruits with a moderate Glycemic index:
Plantain banana (45)
Fruits with a low Glycemic index:
Apricots (dried) (30)
Apricots (fresh) (10) (Sugar Busters p. 64)
Keep in mind that fruits that have a high Glycemic index should be avoided by diabetics. Pay attention to serving sizes as well. After all, it’s very easy to consume more fruit servings that recommended in just one sitting. According to TypeFree.com, a healthy serving of fruits is:
• 1 small fresh fruit
• ½ cup of canned fruit (in its own unsweetened juice)
• ¼ cup dried fruit
• ½ cup fruit juice
Sugar Busters; by H. Leighton Steward, Morrison C. Bethea, M.D., Sam S. Andrews, M.D., and Luis A. Balart, M.D.; 1995