Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you need to skip out on all carbs. You need carbohydrates in your diet to give your body a steady stream of glucose, which is your body’s main fuel source. When you have diabetes, though, it’s essential to spread out your carb intake throughout the day, to help sustain your blood glucose. Fruit is high in carbohydrates, so you need to keep your serving size to a minimum.
Carbs in Fruit
A serving of whole fruit weighs roughly 4 ounces. A fruit this size has an average of 60 total calories and 15 grams of carbs. Because carbs have 4 calories per gram, that adds up to 60 calories from carbs, accounting for all of the calories in the serving. Small servings of canned fruit, dried fruit and even fruit juice also fit into this carbohydrate nutritional profile.
You probably won’t be able to weigh out every piece of fruit you eat, so you need to know what a 4-ounce serving equivalent looks like. For a single-serving 15-gram carbohydrate containing fruit, you can have 3/4 cup of blackberries or blueberries, 1 cup of cubed cantaloupe, 1 1/4 cup of whole strawberries, 12 fresh cherries, 1/2 cup of chopped mango, 17 grapes or 3/4 cup of freshly cut pineapple. Two small plums, one small nectarine, a kiwi, an extra small banana, half a large grapefruit and a small apple are other types of fresh fruit you can enjoy for the same amount of carbs.
Canned and Dried Fruit
Canned fruit can fit into your diabetic eating plan, as long as it doesn’t contain any added sugar. A serving containing 15 grams of carbohydrates amounts to 3/4 cup of mandarin oranges or 1/2 cup of apricots, peaches or pineapple. For roughly the same number of carbs, you may also enjoy three prunes, eight dried apricot halves, four dried apple rings or three dates.
You can have fruit juice if you have diabetes, although it should be 100 percent juice, so you're not drinking empty calories. Four ounces of apple, grapefruit, orange or pineapple juice -- each equaling one serving of fruit and providing 15 grams of carbs. Or you can have 6 ounces of grape juice, prune juice or cranberry juice for about the same carb content.
Your Carb Allowance
In general, you should aim for 135 to 180 grams of carbohydrates each day, the American Diabetes Association recommends. Your specific needs may be slightly more or less, though. Based on this amount and a diet consisting of three meals a day, you can have 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates at each meal. So if you were to have a glass of juice at breakfast, for example, that takes up as much as one-third of your carb allowance for that meal. This is why it’s important for you to plan ahead and spread out your carbohydrates accordingly throughout the day.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Food Exchange Lists
- Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Weight Management; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2008
- American Diabetes Association: How Many Total Carbs per Day You Should Try to Eat with Type 2 Diabetes?