Can Diabetics Eat Strawberries?

Red, ripe, sweet and juice, strawberries are a delectable delight. Not only can you safely eat strawberries if you have diabetes, but in fact you are encouraged to do so. Strawberries and other fruits have numerous health benefits and are a healthful part of the diabetic diet. In addition, a growing body of research suggests that strawberries have an ingredient that is helpful in treating type 2 diabetes. As long as you don't have an allergy to the fruit, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages you to enjoy strawberries as part of the 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits you need each day.

White bowl of fresh strawberries. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Fruit, Carbs and Diabetes

Strawberries provide carbohydrates to your body. If you have diabetes, you must pay careful attention to how many and what kind of carbs you eat. Carbs convert to glucose with the help of a special hormone called insulin. Glucose is your body's primary energy source, but diabetics have trouble with their insulin, and can have too much glucose circulating in the body. By eating too many carbohydrates, you may be consuming more glucose than a diabetic body can handle. This is the primary concern of diabetics with eating fruit such as strawberries. However, carbs are an important nutrient, and a half-cup of strawberries provides only about 6 g of carbs. You simply need to account for the carbs of strawberries in your total carb intake for the day. Moreover, strawberries score a 40 on the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly carbs act on your blood sugar and insulin as they are digested. Any score lower than 55 is considered "low," meaning the food is slowly absorbed and healthier for a diabetic diet.

Strawberry Stats

Strawberries are low in calories but high in health-boosting ingredients like fiber and vitamin C. Both the "meat" of the berry and the seeds will give a healthy dose of fiber. Fiber is important for diabetics, especially if you are trying to lose weight. It is a bulking agent that helps you feel satisfied longer and eat less. It also alleviates constipation. Moreover, enjoying a hearty, half-cup serving of strawberries provides just 25 calories, making it a delicious treat you can enjoy just about any time. That same serving can give you 80 percent of the immune-boosting vitamin C you need in a day. Strawberries also provide a little calcium and iron.

Strawberries in Diabetes Research

Strawberries contain substantial amounts of substances called ellagitannins and anthocyanins, which may help treat the hyperglycemia and high blood pressure associated with type 2 diabetes. Research published in the journals "Biofactors" and the "Journal of Medicinal Food" suggest that these substances can help reduce your blood sugar levels after you eat a starch-rich meal. They may also help break down the starches you eat. According to an article in "Nutrition Journal," these substances also have antioxidant properties that lowered cholesterol and risk of metabolic syndrome in a group of women. The National Diabetes Education Program recommends eating strawberries as part of a plan to increase fruits and vegetables and lower your weight. Weight control is an important part of managing diabetes; it can also help resolve pre-diabetes.

Caution and Tips

Avoid eating strawberries prepared as part of desserts, such as pies and sundaes. Also avoid strawberries that have been bathed in sugary syrups. These desserts give you excessive amounts of carbs, calories and fat. Still, you can enjoy fresh, frozen, canned and dried strawberries. The variety will help broaden your diet and leave you feeling less restricted. Add strawberries to your hot or cold breakfast cereal or use them as snack to increase the amount you eat.

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