Diabetics can eat almost every kind of fruit or vegetable. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with the nutrients that keep your body running smoothly. But they are also high in carbohydrates, which raise blood sugar levels, something diabetics need to be careful about. Some fruits and vegetables offer more nutrition than others, even when they have the same number of carbohydrates per equal portion. Many diabetics have other conditions that limit the kinds of fruits and vegetables they can eat.
If you have diabetes you have to keep a close eye on the amount of carbohydrates you eat. The American Diabetes Association gives a range — 45 to 60 grams per meal — of carbohydrates you should include in your diet. This broad range can varies from person to person, depending on their metabolism and level of activity. Fruits and vegetables are made up primarily of simple and complex carbohydrates. Though carbohydrates are essential fuel for your body, eating too many carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and high blood glucose levels over your target range.
Fruits contain many vitamins and minerals necessary for good brain and body health. Fruits are simple carbohydrates, however, and too many or the wrong kind can quickly raise your blood sugar and also lead to weight gain. Eating the same amount of pineapple and apples can have very different effects. Apples are low on the glycemic index, making your blood glucose rise more slowly. Pineapple is a high-glycemic fruit, causing your blood sugar to increase rapidly.
Green leafy vegetables are especially healthy for you, whether you are diabetic or not. Spinach, kale and parsley are packed with the vitamins and minerals your body needs while being relatively low in carbohydrates. Red, yellow and orange vegetables — e.g., bell peppers, squash and carrots — are also high in nutrition while low in carbohydrates. Though sweet potatoes are a better choice than white potatoes, they are both starchy vegetables. The American Diabetes Association includes starchy vegetables in the whole grains category instead of the vegetable category.
Cooked tomatoes, artichokes and strawberries are all good examples of fruits and vegetables that offer several different health benefits to people with diabetes. As antioxidants, these foods — along with cranberries, blueberries and acai berries — protect the body against free radicals. Research shows that these foods also help prevent the development of many types of cancer. Health experts say adding lentils and chia seeds to your diet can forestall the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Overall, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins is a healthy choice for diabetics.
People with diabetes often have accompanying conditions that limit the fruits and vegetables in their diets. Hypothyroidism, caused by an underactive thyroid gland, slows down metabolism and sometimes leads to goiter development. Certain foods — broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower — are known to interfere with thyroid medication uptake. Many diabetics also have high cholesterol and should stay away from high fat foods such as fried potatoes or apple pie, even though these fruits and vegetables are nutritious alone.