The 12 best fruits, vegetables and berries for diabetes

The 12 Best Fruits, Vegetables and Berries for Diabetes

1. Blueberries

Multiple studies have found that blueberries confer health benefits in animals and humans.1-3

For instance, insulin sensitivity significantly improved in insulin resistant men and women who consumed 2 smoothies per day with blueberry extract for 6 weeks, compared to similar smoothies without blueberry extract.1 The dose was equivalent to 2 cups of fresh blueberries per day (300 grams or 10½ ounces).

Another study on patients with metabolic syndrome found that blueberries significantly reduced blood pressure (-5%) and other heart disease risk factors compared to placebo.2 The dose was equivalent to 350 grams of fresh blueberries per day (12½ ounces or 2.4 cups).

A supplement, Blueberin, made mostly from blueberry leaves, reduced fasting blood sugar by 27% in type 2 diabetics, while reducing inflammation and improving liver health. Placebo, on the other hand, did not reduce blood sugar.3

I think it’s best to divide the blueberries between morning and evening to keep a steady state of the healthy compounds in the blood.

2. Broccoli sprouts

Broccoli sproutsBroccoli sprouts are a few days old, sprouted broccoli seeds, which resemble alfalfa sprouts. Essentially, they are a few days old broccoli plants.

In type 2 diabetics, 10 grams of powdered broccoli sprouts per day for 4 weeks reduced insulin resistance compared to placebo.4 Blood fats (triglycerides) also fell, while the ’good’ HDL cholesterol increased.5

Hopefully you can find fresh broccoli sprouts in your grocery store. Alternatively, you can buy broccoli seeds and grow broccoli sprouts yourself. It’s easy and fun to do. There is plenty of instructions available on the Internet. You can also buy premade broccoli sprouts powder and mix with water.

If you eat fresh sprouts, an appropriate dose would be 30-40 grams per day. If you consume powder, 10 grams is enough, because it’s more concentrated when dehydrated.

Whether the same health benefits can be obtained by eating broccoli florets is unclear at this time.

3. Caper fruit

caperCaper fruit, often referred to simply as caper, has been traditionally used as a natural diabetes treatment, and the first controlled study on caper on diabetics was published 2013.

Type 2 diabetics were randomly assigned to consume either caper fruit or placebo 3 times per day for 2 months. By the end of the study, fasting blood sugar and HbA1c were significantly lower in the caper group.6

The amount was equal to 5 grams per day of dried capers, a realistic amount to consume. The equivalent amount of fresh caper would be 3-4 times higher.

4. Garlic

A lot of research has documented the beneficial effects of garlic on diabetes.

In a 4-week study on type 2 diabetics, garlic powder tablets reduced fasting blood sugar, blood fats, and lowered fructosamine (similar to HbA1c).7

In a 24-week study on type 2 diabetics, garlic tablets significantly lowered blood sugar and cholesterol, and increased the ’good’ HDL cholesterol, compared to placebo tablets.8

Another 12-week study found that garlic tablets reduced fasting blood sugar, HbA1c, inflammation, cholesterol and blood fats, and increased carbohydrate tolerance, in type 2 diabetics.9

Even though garlic tablets were used, raw garlic is probably good for diabetes as well.

5. Grapefruit

Animal studies, and one human study, demonstrated that grapefruit helps for high blood sugar.10, 11

In a 12-week study on metabolic syndrome patients, eating half a fresh grapefruit 3 times per day, before each major meal, resulted in an extra weight loss of 1.6 kg (3½ pounds), and reduced insulin resistance, compared to a placebo group.10

No other studies that I’m aware of have examined the effects of grapefruit consumption on blood sugar control in humans, but various rodent studies confirm that it helps for diabetic rats/mice.11

Grapefruit interacts with various medications, so be sure to get permission from your medical doctor before consuming grapefruit products.

6. Indian Gooseberry

indian-gooseberryIndian gooseberries (also known as alma fruit) are sour, bitter, astringent, and quite fibrous berries, that improve diabetes.

In a 12 week long study on type 2 diabetics, a supplement made from Indian gooseberries reduced inflammation, cholesterol and, most importantly, HbA1c.12

In another study, 1 to 3 grams per day of dried Indian gooseberries for 21 days significantly reduced fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetics, as well as healthy individuals. Moreover, Indian gooseberries dramatically increased carbohydrate tolerance, and decreased blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides, while increasing the good HDL cholesterol.13

If animal studies are anything to go by, Indian gooseberry juice should be antidiabetic as well. In diabetic rats, the juice reduced blood sugar.14

In conclusion, it seems that any form of Indian gooseberry products are good for diabetics. As always, try to avoid those with added sugar.

Whether other species of gooseberries are beneficial is uncertain. They very well may be, especially if they resemble the sour, bitter and astringent taste of the Indian variety, but future research will have to provide the final answer.

7. Mango

Mango is a tropical, sweet, carbohydrate-rich, fruit that, perhaps unexpectedly, is good for diabetes.

In a 12 week study on obese individuals, 10 grams per day of dried mango pulp significantly reduced their fasting blood sugar.15

The amount used corresponds roughly to 57 grams (2 ounces) of raw mango.

As an added benefit, mango has a relatively low glycemic index (post-meal blood sugar levels) compared to other tropical fruits, such as banana, pineapple, durian, and rambutan.16

Animal studies also demonstrated antidiabetic effects of mango. For example, mice fed a fattening diet became insulin resistant, but adding mango as 1% of the diet diminished weight gain, increased carbohydrate tolerance, and reduced insulin resistance.17

8. Onion

Since I’ve already included garlic as one of the best foods if you have diabetes, it should come as no surprise that onion is antidiabetic, too.

Raw yellow and red onion reduce fasting blood sugar when consumed on an empty stomach, in type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients. The doses tested have been 60 to 100 grams per day (2 to 3½ oz). 18, 19

Additionally, when added to a carbohydrate-rich meal, onion reduces post-meal blood sugar levels. 18, 19

Animal studies have demonstrated that onion juice, freeze-dried onion powder, and other onion preparations, also have antidiabetic effects.20

Adding raw onion, onion juice, onion powder (spice), etc., to your diet will most likely improve your blood sugar control.

9. Plums

Plums improve diabetes in rats, so they are probably a good fruit for diabetics.

Obese rats given Asian plum juice (Prunus Mume) had lower blood sugar and higher insulin sensitivity compared to rats given water.21

In another study on obese rats, juice made from purple plums attenuated weight gain by reducing calorie intake, and reduced blood sugar and insulin resistance, compared to a similar amount of water with added sugar.22

Plums are rich in carbs, which isn’t optimal for diabetics. However, if you still want to eat some carbs, then plums and plum juice seem like relatively good alternatives.

10. Pomegranate juice

Studies on humans demonstrated that pomegranate juice improves blood sugar control, and can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, too.23-25

Another study found a neutral effect on blood sugar, but found that pomegranate juice was anti-inflammatory.26

An animal study is also worth mentioning. A pomegranate rind supplement reduced blood sugar by 48% in just 6 hours in diabetic mice. It also improved nerve function and reduced pain caused by peripheral diabetic neuropathy.27

As always, try to find juice with a minimal amount of sugar and calories, even if it’s natural sugar.

11. Prickly pear

pricklypearPrickly pear is the fruit of a variety of cactus species, which are also known as nopal.

Both the fruit (prickly pear) and the stems/leaves (often called nopal) of the cactus reduce diabetes severity.28-32

Eating 100 grams (3.5 ounces) broiled nopal is sufficient to reduce blood sugar, but a greater effect is seen with larger intakes.31 In a study on type 2 diabetics, adding 300 grams (10.6 ounces) of steamed nopal to a carbohydrate-rich meal lowered post-meal blood sugars by 35%.32

Prickly pears (the fruit) lowered blood sugar and insulin resistance in volunteers who ate 250 grams (~9 ounces) daily for 8 weeks.30

pricklypear2Supplements (dried extracts) of prickly pear have not shown the same consistent antidiabetic effects, however, so it’s better to consume prickly pears and nopal as foods.33, 34

There is also prickly pear juice that you can buy. Prickly pear and plant parts (nopal) can be purchased in many grocery stores.

Just make sure that anything you consume is suitable for human consumption.

12. Tomatoes

Studies have shown that tomato products are beneficial for diabetics.

For example, type 2 diabetics who consumed 200 grams (7 ounces) of raw tomatoes per day for 8 weeks got significantly reduced blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors.35

In patients with the metabolic syndrome, drinking tomato juice 4 times per week for 8 weeks significantly reduced insulin resistance, inflammation and cholesterol.36

Tomato juice does contain some carbohydrate, but has a relatively low glycemic index, so it shouldn’t be too problematic for most people. Beware that a lot of sodium (salt) is often added to tomato juice, and other tomato products, which can increase blood pressure. Therefore, try to find a juice without added sodium, or buy fresh tomatoes.



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