Fruit and Diabetes

Have you ever heard someone say “I don’t eat fruit that often because fruit is high in sugar, and thus will increase my risk of diabetes.” Or perhaps you’ve heard “Well, I have diabetes and so I shouldn’t consume fruit.” On rare occasions you might hear “I have diabetes, and my doctor has told me to avoid fruit.” I’ve heard all of these responses when I’ve asked people about why they don’t consume fruit. I usually proceed to ask something like “How do you know that?” Or, “Wow really? Where did you read that fruit is bad for you?” Usually people fail to respond to that question. They simply shrug and say “I don’t know.” Or, “Well, my doctor told me.”

Here’s the thing: unless you read something from a reliable source such as a peer reviewed journal like  The Journal of Nutrition  ,or an accredited university such as Harvard University I would remain skeptical. Of course, if someone writes a review about an article, and sites a reliable source, than they could be providing you with reliable information. However, you should always remember that they are putting their own opinion into the article as well. For example, I share things with you guys that I deem interesting or necessary to share, but I still implement my own thoughts and opinions into my posts. While I am currently studying biology, and pursuing a masters in nutrition, I am not a peer reviewed journal. Just because I think something is true doesn’t mean it’s true. However, when I back up my claims with facts from peer reviewed sources, that makes what I say verifiable.

Anyway, today I wanted to discuss this whole myth between fruit and diabetes. I’ve read several articles (two of which I’m going to share with you today) that claim that higher fruit consumption is inversely associated with diabetes. This is important to me because I know several people with diabetes, and some of them simply refuse to listen to me when I tell them to eat their fruit!

A recent study from PLOS Journal of Medicine concluded that individuals who consumed more fruit decreased their risk of diabetes, and that current diabetics who consumed fruit significantly decreased their likelihood of mortality. In this study, half a million Chinese adults had their health subsequently tracked for seven years, and were questioned about their fruit consumption. The individuals were from various parts of China. The researchers found that individuals who consumed fruit on a daily basis were 12% less likely to develop diabetes, and those with diabetes who consumed fruit regularly were 17% less likely to die from diabetes. The individuals with diabetes were also 18%-23% less likely to develop chronic disease such as cardio vascular disease related to diabetes. (1)

A study published in the BMJ (another peer reviewed journal suggests that specific fruits including apples, grapes, and blueberries are associated with lowering risk of type 2 diabetes. The study was conducted published in 2013, and was mentioned by Harvard researchers in a recent article discussing the relationship between fruit consumption and diabetes (Click here to read the article from Harvard). Researchers determined the glycemic index for each fruit that they fed to the participants. They determined how much fruit each participant was consuming based on a questionnaire mailed to them every two years. They used data from the Nurse’s Health Study conducted by Harvard university that began in 1976. They followed up with participants every two years until present day so this is still an ongoing study, but the paper was published in 2013. Researchers determined the glycemic index of various fruits. Blueberries have a low glycemic index, apples have a moderate glycemic and grapes have a high glycemic index. What is interesting about this is that these fruits vary in glycemic level (sugar absorption rate), but each of these proved to lower risk of diabetes. In the conclusion researchers mention that higher glycemic index foods showed to decrease diabetes risk (2)! Who would have thought? Heres a little excerpt for you from the conclusion just so you can see just how much certain fruits lowered risk of diabetes in participants:

“…the risk of type 2 diabetes in the pooled analysis was 7% (95% confidence interval 4% to 9%) lower for total whole fruits, 33% (24% to 40%) lower for blueberries, 19% (14% to 24%) lower for grapes and raisins, 14% (11% to 18%) lower for apples and pears, 13% (9% to 16%) lower for bananas, and 12% (8% to 17%) lower for grapefruit after adjustment for personal factors, lifestyle, and the modified alternate health eating index score…” (2).

The article also mentioned that consumption of fruit juices verses consumption of fresh fruits was seen to increase risk of diabetes. This alludes to the idea that it is not a good idea to replace fresh fruits with fruit juices. If you think about that for a moment it makes sense because juices tend to be stripped of pulp. The pulp of a fruit is what contains important phytochemicals and nutrients. Therefore fruit juice is essentially just composed of the sugar from the fruit.

Are you convinced yet? If not, that’s okay. I’ve included a few more articles you could read regarding the association between fruit consumption and diabetes below.

There you have it everyone! Eat your fruit! If you need a fun way to incorporate fruit into your diet, try this:


Blue Spirulina Smoothie Bowl Recipe:

  • two frozen bananas
  • 2 tsp blue spirulina powder (optional) Can buy here 
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • topped with raw cocoa nibs, blueberries, hemp seeds, raspberries and gogi berries!
  • Blend all ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!

Scientific Articles Regarding Benefits of Fruit:

  1. Harvard Nutrition
  2.  PubMed
  3. The American Journal of Nutrition



Works Cited:

  1. Du, H., Li, L., Bennett, D., Guo, Y., Turnbull, I., Yang, L., . . . Study, C. K. (n.d.). Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-y prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults. Retrieved September 11, 2017, from
  2. Muraki, I., Imamura, F., Manson, J. E., Hu, F. B., Willett, W. C., Dam, R. M., & Sun, Q. (2013, August 29). Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. Retrieved September 11, 2017, from

2 thoughts on “Fruit and Diabetes

  1. Loved and so appreciated the blog about fruit and diabetes. My mom and two of her sisters acquired adult onset diabetes. I’ve heard “the myth” and for years have limited my fruit intake to usually just once piece a day to “be on the safe side”. Thank you. This is wonderful news!

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