Should diabetics stay away from fruits?
A common misconception when it comes to diabetes is that all sweet foods are not allowed. Cakes, chocolates, and candies are usually eliminated from the diet and some say that fruits are foods to avoid as well. Fruits do contain sugar which can be potentially harmful to a diabetic but it is also important to know that there’s no reason to avoid sugar when you have diabetes.
It was commonly thought that sugar is the main reason why people develop diabetes but further studies have already refuted this claim. Sugar doesn’t affect one’s risk for developing diabetes, specifically Type 1 Diabetes. Rather, being overweight and eating too much are considered to be the biggest risk factors for diabetes. The type of carbohydrate does affect the rate at which blood glucose rise but more importantly, the total amount of carbohydrates consumed actually has a bigger impact on blood sugar levels. Substituting sugar for other foods that contain carbohydrates in a diabetic diet can help diabetics enjoy dessert without worrying about their blood glucose levels.
Diabetes and Blood Sugar:
Understanding the relationship between diabetes and blood sugar is important in understanding why carbohydrate intake of diabetics is strictly controlled. Normally, carbohydrates from the food we eat are broken down into glucose during metabolism. Glucose is a form of sugar found in the blood that provides the cells with the main source of energy. Before glucose can enter the cells, the hormone insulin is needed to facilitate the process.
Diabetes is a health condition that involves the metabolic system wherein the pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin hormone (Type 1 Diabetes) or the cells in the body fail to respond to insulin (Type 2 Diabetes). Among the diabetes symptoms experienced include frequent thirst, hunger, and urination. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the blood and the body loses its primary source of energy. High blood sugar also increases the risk of developing certain health conditions in the long term including damage to the nerves, eye problems, heart disease, and kidney failure.
Simple and Complex Carbohydrates:
Part of good diabetes care is eating well so that diabetics can keep their blood sugar levels in check. Carbohydrates are needed by the body for energy but care should be taken to eat the right kinds of carbohydrates in the right amount to prevent blood glucose from rising.
There are two types of carbohydrates, namely simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are broken down much faster by the body and include those found in table sugar, fruits, and milk. Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down into glucose and include foods like rice, pasta, and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates are recommended for diabetics but fruits and low fat dairy products are also allowed.
The Benefits of Fruits for Diabetics:
Fruits contain fructose, a sugar considered to be a simple carbohydrate. Fruits can be eaten as part of a diabetic diet but care should be taken to choose fruits with a low glycemic index (G.I.) which is important to prevent a rapid rise in blood sugar. Choose fresh fruits with a glycemic index of less than 55 such as blueberries, strawberries, apples, and pears. Proper portioning should also be considered depending on the type of fruit to be consumed.
Fruits are good for diabetics since it provides much of the body’s needed vitamins and minerals. Fruits are also rich in fiber and antioxidants. Fresh fruits can make an excellent dessert to any meal and can satisfy a diabetic’s sweet tooth without compromising blood sugar level.
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