Photo of fruit in a wooden bowl
New research suggests we need to look again at advice for diabetics to restrict fruit intake [Image: hotblack - Morguefile]

Diabetics – it’s OK to eat fruit

11 March, 2013

Natural Health News — People who are newly diagnosed with diabetes are often told to restrict their fruit intake.

But in a new study in the Nutrition Journal, Danish researchers say this advice is unnecessary and does not improve glycaemic control.

The small study included 63 patients with newly diagnosed type-2 diabetes. All received standard medical nutrition therapy, but were also randomised into either high or low fruit eating groups.

The 32 subjects in the low-fruit-intake group were advised eat no more than 2 pieces of fruit a day, whereas the 31 subjects in the high-fruit-intake group were told to indulge in 2 or more pieces of fruit a day.

A piece of fruit was defined as the amount that contained about 10 g of carbohydrate — for example, an apple (100 g), half a banana (50 g), or an orange (125 g). The subjects were also instructed to eat whole fruit, skip dried fruit, and not drink fruit juice.

After 12 weeks, during which time average, fruit consumption rose from 194 g/day to 319 g/day in the high-intake group and decreased from 186 g/day to 135 g/day in the low-intake group, the 2 groups had similar drops in glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, weight, and girth.

Questioning standard advice

Patients with diabetes are usually advised to eat more, varied, fibre-rich diets high in vegetables and wholefoods. But some health professionals remain concerned about fruit’s high sugar content and tell diabetic patients to avoid eating too many fruits, despite a lack of any trial evidence. Indeed higher fruit intake, which helps increase intake of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients, has been linked to many benefits such as lower risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Nevertheless the authors of this study conclude that “advice to restrict fruit intake as part of standard [medical nutrition therapy] in overweight adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus [T2DM] does not improve glycaemic control, body weight, or waist circumference.”

“Considering the many possible beneficial effects of fruit, we recommend that fruit intake should not be restricted in T2DM subjects,” they add.