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March 1, 2006

Meal Planning, Food and Diet, Type 2

Question from Nova Scotia, Canada:

Since most fruits are considerably higher in sugars/starches than most vegetables, why don't more nutritionists recommend skipping the fruits in lieu of vegetables with a low glycemic index? The CDA still advises eating things like citrus, presumably for certain vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals whose value might not be understood. Yet, by eating those, I would require medications which I can avoid by sticking to low glycemic index foods. My current A1c is 5.8 and I hope to get it lower by diet, strength training and other exercise. I don't want to burn out my beta cells. The only fruit I eat, sparingly, is tiny pieces of apple in salad or a few raspberries or blueberries in season, plus fresh tomato. I probably eat 50 to 75 grams of fruit a day. But, the dietitian says to eat more fruits. Other patients are eating far more than me, but then their readings are high, too, and some have had to increase oral medications and insulin. I take a multivitamin, alpha lipoic acid, fish oil and folic acid as supplements.

Answer:

It is true that the fruits eaten in our diets raise blood sugars. In the big picture, if people are eating more fruits and vegetables, they are less likely to eat other forms of foods that have even higher glucose content with less nutritional value. A more refined question is how you manipulate a healthy diet to be even better, in terms of keeping your glucose levels down. You are correct. You don’t want to miss out on the nutritional value of the fruit in your diet, but an excess of fruit will also raise blood sugars and increase insulin requirements.

JTL