Now that summer is here, supermarket produce sections and farmers markets brim with the colors of the season.
You might wonder if fruit is a good fit for your diet. The answer is yes, as long as you choose wisely. Fruit is high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making it an excellent substitute for sugary desserts.
Yet it also contains sugar and carbs, so you need to watch portion sizes. Work with your doctor or dietitian to figure out how many grams of carbs you should eat per meal and per day.
One 15-gram serving of carbs is equal to 1¼ cups whole strawberries, 1 medium peach, or 1 cup of cubed cantaloupe. Dried fruit is a much more concentrated source of sugar, so a serving will be smaller. For example, you could eat two whole plums or three small dried prunes for the same 15 grams of carbs.
If you eat based on the glycemic index (GI) -- a measure of how much certain foods raise your blood sugar -- most fruits are fine because their fiber puts them low on the index. Higher-GI fruits to watch out for are pineapple, watermelon, bananas, and dried fruits.
Is Fruit Juice OK?
When it comes to drinking fruit juice, it's all about timing. Juice is high in sugar and carbs, which raises blood sugar. Yet that can come in handy at times.
"It's used by many people to raise their sugar if they're having a low," says Clara Schneider, RD, RN, a certified diabetes educator and dietitian in Corolla, N.C.
If you drink juice regularly, look for brands labeled 100% fruit juice with no added sugar. And watch how much you drink. A 4-ounce glass of juice gives you about 15 carb grams.
Fresh, Frozen, or Canned?
Fresh fruit is always ideal, but it may not be available or affordable where you live. Canned or frozen fruits make good substitutes, with a few exceptions to the rule.
"Most frozen fruits are taken from the field and frozen very quickly, so they're not losing that many nutrients," Schneider says. But you want to avoid products with added syrup, sugar, and salt. Read the labels.
Keep in mind how certain fruits might affect your medications. Grapefruit and its juice, as well as orange and apple juices, can interact with drugs used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other conditions. Check with your doctor before eating citrus fruits or drinking their juice.
Ask Your Doctor or Dietitian
How much fruit can I eat each day?
Will I have to exchange other sources of carbs for fruit?
Which are the best fruits for my diabetes?
Can I drink fruit juice?
Could any fruits interact with my medications?
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