Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar is higher than normal. It is lower than in diabetes, but up to 50% of those with prediabetes develop diabetes within 5 years, according to the American Diabetes Association in Diabetes Care.
Weight loss and a controlled intake of carbohydrates can help lower blood sugar and reduce the risk for developing diabetes, so what does that mean for fruit? Fruit is high in carbohydrates, especially sugar, but it turns out that fruit is an important part of many diet plans to lose weight and lower blood sugar, such as a Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the diet encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).
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While a variety of fruits are likely best for getting a range of nutrients and benefits, these are some of the best fruit for prediabetes based on links to lower blood sugar, nutrient profile, and potential for help with weight loss.
Strawberries are among the lowest-calorie and lowest-sugar fruits on a per-serving basis, plus they are high in fiber. They are also high in vitamin C, which has been linked lower risk for diabetes according to research published in PLoS One, and they contain phytonutrients called flavon-3-ols.
Strawberries are delicious on their own, or they can be dipped into dark chocolate for an antioxidant-rich dessert. Strawberry jam and tarts are high in calories and sugar, but a whole-grain English muffin with fat-free cream cheese and sliced strawberries and oatmeal cottage cheese pancakes with sliced strawberries are great-tasting, high-fiber meals without added sugars.
The British Medical Journal found that people who consume more grapefruit have a lower risk for diabetes. Both grapefruits and oranges are high in vitamin C and fiber and relatively low in calories and sugar. They have a low glycemic index, according to Oregon State University Extension.
Other citrus fruits, such as tangerines, are also likely to be healthy for people with prediabetes, although whole fruits are better than juices. They all make good snacks, since they are portable and just need to be peeled before eating. Tangerines or clementines go well in salads, and oranges and grapefruits can go into citrus salsa to top chicken or fish.
The old saying is so cliche, but so true: an apple a day really may keep the doctor away. Research in the British Medical Journal found decreased diabetes risk with increased apple consumption, and Linus School of Public Health says they are high in beneficial flavonoids. They are also low-glycemic and high-fiber.
It is probably better to choose fresh apples instead of apple juice, since drinking juice is linked to increased risk for diabetes. Apples dipped in almond or peanut butter, or diced, mixed with cinnamon, and added to oatmeal or cottage cheese, are great choices. If you have a sweet tooth, choosing stewed apples with cinnamon instead of apple pie can save hundreds of calories and a load of sugar.
Raspberries are rich in many types of antioxidants and low in calories and sugar, and Linus School of Public Health lists them as being high in fiber. Because of their nutrient profile, raspberries seem to be likely candidates for aiding in weight loss.
Blackberries and blueberries are also likely healthy parts of a weight loss diet to lower blood sugar, as they are also high in fiber and beneficial phytonutrients. Berries can go into pancakes such as these whole-wheat blueberry pancakes from Mayo Clinic, yogurt parfaits with layers of toasted oats, and fresh salads with chicken or garbanzo beans.
Bananas have a high glycemic index compared to other fruits and they are high in carbohydrates, but people who consumed at least 3 servings of bananas a week were 5% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the study published in British Medical Journal. The protective effect could potentially be related to the resistant starch in bananas, which takes longer to break down and has been linked to weight loss and reduced insulin resistance, according to research in International Journal of Research in Public Health.
Less-ripe bananas are lower glycemic and better choices than very ripe ones. In addition, since bananas have a high glycemic index, it may be best to consume them with a source of healthy fat and/or protein. For breakfast, what about a banana sliced into ½ cup of nonfat cottage cheese with a tablespoon of sunflower seeds?
Like bananas, grapes are high-glycemic but apparently good for lowering risk for diabetes, as people who consumed them regularly had a 12% lower risk for developing diabetes than those who did not, in the same study in British Medical Journal. Though relatively high in sugar, with 24 grams per cup, grapes also contain heart-healthy phytonutrients including resveratrol, notes the Linus Pauling Institute. Resveratrol may also help lower blood sugar.
Grapes are great on their own just as they are, or they can be frozen for an antioxidant-rich treat that is far lower in calories than ice cream. Or, try adding sliced grapes to a chicken salad made with skinless cooked chicken, plain Greek yogurt, mustard, pepper, onion powder, chopped tomatoes, diced celery, and dill.
Peaches are low-glycemic and high in fiber and vitamin A. Research in British Medical Journal found consumption of peaches, plums, and apricots to be linked to lower risk for diabetes.
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Plums and apricots can be unavailable during winter months, but unsweetened frozen peaches are always available. Grilled peaches are great on their own or with blue or goat cheese and nuts Peaches or apricots with cottage cheese, peach salsa, and peaches on oatmeal or cereal are also good ways to eat them.
Fruit may be high in sugars, but most kinds have so many beneficial nutrients and properties that they can be a healthy part of a diet to prevent diabetes. Lark Diabetes Prevention Program can guide you towards making healthier choices that fit into your lifestyle and have a significant impact.