Can I Eat Fruit if I Have Diabetes?

From the WebMD Archives

Fruit is not off-limits if you have type 2 diabetes. It has too many good things going for it, such as fiber and nutrients, as well as its natural sweetness.

These fruits are good choices. Keep in mind that fruit gives you carbs, and “as with any carbohydrate, it's important to be mindful of serving sizes,” Shira Lenchewski, RD, says. Pairing fruit with some protein, such as nonfat or low-fat yogurt or a few nuts, also helps.

“Blackberries contain more fiber than most cereals and breads on the market.” -- Lynn A. Maarouf, RD


“This super fruit literally has it all,” says Lynn A. Maarouf, RD, nutrition educator at the Stark Diabetes Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch. “It supplies enough beta-carotene and vitamin C to meet your daily requirements and is an excellent source of potassium (an antioxidant which can help lower blood pressure).”

Portion Size: 1/3 of a melon

Nutritional Info: 60 calories, 15 grams of carbs


One serving of strawberries gives you 100% of your daily requirement of vitamin C.

“Also, these sweet berries contain potassium, which help keep blood pressure down, and fiber, which makes you feel full longer while keeping blood sugar levels in check,” Maarouf says.

In a recent study, people who ate strawberries along with white bread needed less insulin to steady their blood sugar, compared to people who ate just the white bread.

“The research suggests it’s the polyphenols in strawberries that may slow down the digestion of simple carbohydrates, thereby requiring less insulin to normalize blood glucose,” Lenchewski says.

Portion Size: 1 cup

Nutritional Info: 60 calories, 15 grams of carbs


These tiny tangerine hybrids are high in both vitamin C and folate, which has been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.

“They fit nicely into a backpack or briefcase, and they have a peeling that slides off easily, making them a simple afternoon snack that’s sweet enough to keep you away from the vending machines,” Maarouf says.

Portion Size: 2

Nutritional Info: 70 calories, 18 grams of carbs


Considered a vegetable or a fruit (depending on whom you ask), one thing is sure -- this red member of the nightshade family is loaded with lycopene, a natural chemical that gives the tomato its bright color. Cooked tomatoes are richer in lycopene than raw tomatoes.

“It’s a powerful antioxidant that is associated with lowering LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of heart disease, two diabetes-related conditions,” Lenchewski says.

Portion Size: 1 cup

Nutritional Info: 30 calories; 8 grams of carbs


“While avocado may not come to mind when we think of fruits, it’s a wonderful low-sugar option,” Lenchewski says. “Although avocado is high in fat, it’s mostly polyunsaturated fat, which provides a variety of anti-inflammatory benefits.”

Portion Size: half an avocado

Nutritional Info: 140 calories, 8 grams of carbs


These dark-colored berries are rich in anthocyanins. “Since these antioxidants protect body tissues from oxidative damage, they play an important role in maintaining heart health,” Lenchewski says.


Maarouf adds that the anthocyanin compounds can help raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol while lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

“Blackberries are also a fantastic source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber -- nearly 8 grams, which means it contains more fiber than most cereals and breads on the market,” she says.

Portion Size: 1 cup

Nutritional Info: 70 calories, 15 grams of carbs


When people with diabetes are looking for something good to eat, they’ll think “anything but the banana,” Maarouf says. “While a whole banana (depending on the size) may be a shade over 30 carbs, it could be just 10 carbs more than a flour tortilla or an average slice of bread,” she says.

“Looking at the bigger picture, bananas are a great source of potassium and magnesium, which can also help keep your blood pressure under control.”

Similar to the clementine, the banana comes neatly packaged by nature. You can toss it into a bag as-is. “And if you add a cereal bar, you have a breakfast with enough carbs to keep your blood sugar -- and your brain -- from crashing before lunch time,” Maarouf says.


Portion Size: 1 medium banana (about 7 inches long)

Nutritional Info: 105 calories, 27 grams of carbs

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on August 08, 2014



Shira Lenchewski, RD, Los Angeles.

Lynn A. Maarouf, MS, RD, CDE, nutrition counselor, Stark Diabetes Center, University of Texas Medical Branch, League City, TX.

News release, Stanford University School of Medicine.

Schor, J. Natural Medicine Journal, October 2013.

Sudchada, P. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, October 2012.

© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.