When you are a diabetic, you tend to look at foods differently than other people do. When it comes to sweet or sugary items, you may often second-guess yourself when planning a meal. Considering the inherent sugar in fruits, you may question if certain foods are appropriate for you to eat. Even otherwise healthy foods, like fruits, can cause you to worry because of the natural sugars that exist. It also doesn’t help that there are quite a few myths surrounding diabetes and fruit consumption.
Here are a few facts, dispelled myths, and ideas to consider when it comes to diabetes and sugar intake.
I’m a Diabetic. Can I Eat Fruit?
According to the American Diabetes Association, yes, you certainly can—and should. Fruit is a critical component of most healthy diets. Whole fruits contain critical minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They contain fiber, and can add a burst of flavor to any meal. They also make ideal snacks or desserts. Some high-antioxidant fruit choices that are suitable for diabetics include:
- Citrus fruit
What About Sugar Content?
The natural sugar in fruits makes them of particular concern to diabetics. However, just like any other food with carbohydrates, incorporating fruit into a diabetic diet is primarily a matter of eating moderate amounts and portioning appropriately throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels within a manageable range. You will also want to aim for fresh, whole fruits rather than fruit juice, as the fiber is still present in a whole fruit. This is important; fiber helps make you feel full without making your blood sugar rise along the way. Therefore, to make the most of the fruits you do eat, aim for fruit with the peel or skin still on it.
Sugar Versus High Fructose Corn Syrup
What is high fructose corn syrup, and how does it differ from plain sugar? High fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener created from corn starch, sugar cane or sugar beets. It’s often found in sodas and fruit-flavored drinks, as well as in a range of other foods and condiments. Popular choices include barbecue sauces, noodles, pastas, crackers and breads.
When discussing high fructose corn syrup, it’s often easiest to compare it with regular table sugar—also known as sucrose. Sucrose is a 50/50 mix of glucose and fructose, making it metabolize in a different way than fructose by itself. Fructose in general is processed by our bodies in a different kind of way than many other kinds of sugars are.
The “fructose” in high fructose corn syrup gets its name from fruit sugars. In its natural form, fructose is a simple carbohydrate. It can be found in many different kinds of plants. Commercial fructose, however, does not contain the nutritional value that foods containing natural fructose have.
Health Implications of High Fructose Corn Syrup
Studies are continually being performed on high fructose corn syrup and its effects on the human body, including the bodies of diabetic patients. While there are no definitive answers at this time, many scientists have come to believe that consuming high dietary fructose, such as foods containing high fructose corn syrup, may cause metabolic reactions within the body that promote excess LDL cholesterol and triglyceride production. In addition, unlike the sugar in fruits, high fructose corn syrup may help foster an environment for insulin resistance within your body.
High fructose corn syrup can also contribute to the development or progression or metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of conditions that help predict type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. These conditions include high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, and excess body fat around the waist.
Everything in Moderation
When it comes to developing a healthy diabetic diet, you don’t have to eliminate sugars of all kinds from your diet. In fact, even the sugar in fruits is okay in limited quantities. What’s important to remember is that it really is all about moderation. Staggering your sugar intake throughout the day, ensuring you don’t overdo it at any one meal or time, is critical for maintaining a safe and steady blood sugar level. It may also be extremely helpful for you to consult with a nutritionist to help further tailor your diet to your body’s unique specifications.