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Summertime Superfruits

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Summertime Superfruits

Summertime is here full throttle, and you’ve probably been noticing all sorts of luscious fruits at your local grocery store, farm stand, or farmers market. Those peaches, plums, cherries, and berries sure look delicious! But we know what you’re thinking: They’re full of sugar, so they’ll make your blood sugar go too high. Right? Maybe not! Read on to learn why.

Glycemic index

Many people with diabetes have been taught that all carbohydrate foods affect blood glucose the same way. In other words, carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, milk, fruit, and even, say, cookies will cause your blood sugars to go up. Remember that carb foods are supposed to raise your blood sugar level; after all, your body uses carb for fuel, or energy.

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Not all carb foods will affect your blood sugar the same way, however. The glycemic index (GI) is a tool that ranks carbohydrate foods based on how slowly or quickly they raise your blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index tend to more quickly raise your blood sugar, whereas low-glycemic-index foods more slowly increase your blood sugar.

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Glycemic index ratings

Researchers have divided carb foods and their GI ranking into low, medium, and high categories. Here’s what that looks like:

  • Low GI: 1 to 55
  • Medium GI: 56 to 69
  • High GI: 70 to 100

Examples of low GI foods include:

  • Steel-cut oats
  • Barley
  • Legumes
  • Spaghetti
  • Carrots
  • Skim milk

(The University of Sydney has a database of the GI of thousands of foods here.)

Low-GI fruits

You might be very surprised to hear that many fruits have a low GI. But it’s important to remember that all fruit contains carbohydrate, which means that you still need to watch your portions. Ideally, fresh fruit is best, although frozen fruit is fine if no sugar has been added.

So what are these summertime superfruits?

Blueberries

Who can resist a plump blueberry? Packed with anthocyanins, blueberries help with cognition and memory, strong bones, and can protect against heart disease and high blood pressure. They can even help you better manage your diabetes. A ¾-cup serving has a GI of 53 and contains:

  • 63 calories
  • 16 grams of carb
  • 3 grams of fiber

How to eat them

Add them to cereal, yogurt or salad, or throw a handful into your smoothie.

Cherries

Cherries are another irresistible fruit that are fun to snack on. They contain antioxidants that can help fight off cancer, improve heart health, protect memory, and guard against gout attacks. Twelve cherries have a GI of 22 and contain:

  • 62 calories
  • 16 grams of carbohydrate
  • 2 grams of fiber

How to eat them

Add cut up cherries to Greek yogurt or cottage cheese or sprinkle them on mixed greens. Or simply savor them as-is (minus the pit, of course!).

Plums

Black, purple, red, or golden, plums are among the tastiest of the stone fruits. They’re a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and antioxidants. Some reasons to eat plums (besides the fact that they’re delicious) include a lower risk of heart disease, better blood pressure, and healthy bones. One plum (2 1/8 inches in diameter) has a GI of 40 and contains:

  • 30 calories
  • 8 grams of carb
  • 1 gram of fiber

How to eat them

Besides eating a ripe plum on its own, say, as a snack, try chopping up a plum and adding it to your morning oatmeal, along with a sprinkling of almonds and a dollop of yogurt.

Peaches

Who can resist biting into a ripe peach and letting the juice dribble down your chin? Like plums, peaches are a stone fruit, and they contain a decent amount of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. Vitamin C helps to ward off infections, acts as an antioxidant, and stimulates the formation of collagen. Vitamin A promotes healthy vision and skin, and potassium is necessary for regulating heart rate and blood pressure. One medium peach has a GI of 42 and contains:

  • 58 calories
  • 15 grams of carb
  • 2 grams of fiber

How to eat them

You might be a peach “purist,” enjoying them as is. But peaches are great sliced or chopped on cereal or mixed in yogurt. For something really different, try making peach salsa! It’s delicious as a side dish, as a topping for chicken or fish, or served with low-carb tortilla chips. Check out this recipe.

Remember that the best way to learn how fruit — or any carb food — impacts your blood sugar is to check your levels with a meter or use CGM (continuous glucose monitoring).

Want to learn more about eating well with diabetes? Read “Strategies for Healthy Eating,” “Improving Your Recipes: One Step at a Time,” and “Top Tips for Healthier Eating.”

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES on social media

A Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Good Measures, LLC, where she is a CDE manager for a virtual diabetes program. Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition & Meal Planning, a co-author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet, and has written for  publications including Diabetes Self-Management, Diabetes Spectrum, Clinical Diabetes, the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation’s newsletter, DiabeticConnect.com, and CDiabetes.com

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