- He explained to Your Health that diabetes is a metabolic disease, which is characterised by high blood sugar levels that result from defects in insulin secretion, or its action, or both.
People who suffer from diabetes should avoid eating sugar-based foods because sugar can be quickly absorbed into the stomach leading to high blood pressure in a short while, narrates Dr Shita Samwel, a medical doctor based in Dar es salaam.
He explained to Your Health that diabetes is a metabolic disease, which is characterised by high blood sugar levels that result from defects in insulin secretion, or its action, or both.
With regards to the dilemma most diabetic patients face whether or not to consume fruits, Dr Samwel says, “Everyone should be eating more fruit and vegetables irrespective of living with diabetes or not.”
Where’s the restriction?
Dr Samwel said there are various fruits that diabetics may eat, however, there are several fruits with high sugar content which are not suggested.
The fruits which are strongly suggested as healthy for diabetics can either be frozen or fresh. The worst fruits in the list are those that contain added sugar or are canned with added preservatives.
The canned fruits are usually sweet and delicious. But it is highly suggested that diabetics should avoid such fruits that contain added sugars, which is put purposely to preserve them.
Fruits are rich in protein and pectin which is one of the richest soluble fibre sources.
Fruits such as apples, avacado, papaya, watermelon, peaches, guava, cherries, pear, and pomegranate are considered good.
Dr Samwel explains, “Diabetics must attempt to eat fruits which have low sugar content. There is no general rule, but it is still recommended that diabetics must eat fruits which have a glucose content of less than fifty per cent.”
Apart from that diabetics should consume the juice of one grapefruit before or after having a complete meal as this can help to secrete insulin more efficiently.
Grapefruits are highly recommended for diabetics as they have the capability to lower the degree of blood glucose.
Orange is another citrus fruit that is recommended by Dr Samwel for the purpose of controlling the level of blood glucose.
Fruits which are in dried form are not healthy for diabetics, the prime reason behind this is that they have lots of sugar in compressed form.
However, Doreen Kasubi, a nutrition expert based in Dar es salaam says that in general, all fruits cannot be taken as whole or full. For instance, watermelon or melon are both fresh fruits and the diabetics have to cut a percentage from it to have a serving of the fruit.
With dried fruits, the size shrinks which makes it is easier to swallow or chew and therefore you end up eating the whole fruit in larger quantities.
It is suggested that diabetics should avoid dried fruits as they have concentrated sugars and lots of calories.
“It is very unlikely that you need to reduce your fruit intake but you could keep a food diary to check how often and how much fruit you are eating,” Ms Kasubi advices.
For example, a diabetic should consume a fruit depending an ability of sugar level and status. If he/she wants to have a papaya, then one should choose the not so ripen ones.
Ms Kasubi also suggests that variety is important in the diabetic fruit diet as different coloured fruits contain their own mixture of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, have mixed fruits and choose as many different types as possible.
Example of a combination is water melon, avacado, and apple.
Talking about bananas, Ms Kasubi said that banana is a nutritious fruit, even for diabetics.
The diabetics should eat at least one serving of fruit per day, and consuming banana is a healthy way of filling that requirement.
“One extra-small banana contains 8 per cent of the daily value of potassium, a mineral that can help you control your blood pressure,” the expert adds.
• Diabetics should avoid eating only one kind of fruit which have natural sugars, and instead eat variety of fruits in small portion for each.
• Diabetics should also avoid alcohol and and must do some form of exercise everyday.
• Fruits are not off-limits if you are a diabetic as long as you don’t eat too much. Just remember that moderation is the key here.
• One serving of strawberries gives you 100 per cent of your daily requirement of vitamin C and these sweet berries contain potassium, which help keep blood pressure down.
• While avocado may not come to mind when we think of fruits, it’s a wonderful low-sugar option.
• Avoid canned fruits.
• Always eat fruits that are fresh, local and in season.