The sugar and calorie content of fresh and dried fruits is the main difference between them. The drying process causes the fruit to lose mass and volume of water, which makes the sugars and nutrients more concentrated.
Therefore, dried fruits contain more calories and sugar than fresh fruits. However, that doesn’t mean they’re less healthy for people with diabetes.
If you have diabetes, you may hesitate to eat dried fruits. However, it is essential to note that dried fruits can be a nutritious and diabetic-friendly snack if eaten in moderation.
Instead of a sweet candy bar, why not choose some dried fruit (just half a handful – eg 1 apricot + 2 walnuts + 2 Badam) when craving something sweet? Eating nuts in moderation can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Best Dried Fruits to Eat – For Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Certain dried fruits can help you control your blood sugar. A to study says that a specific composition of nuts and dried fruits effectively counteract metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. This is likely due to their unique profile of macronutrients, micronutrients and other bioactive compounds.
Here is the list of dried fruits to consume for people with diabetes:
Apricots or Khumani
Dried apricots have a low glycemic index of 30 to 32. They also provide 2.2 grams of protein and 4.7 grams of fiber.
This tangy dried fruit also provides essential nutrients like vitamin A, iron, potassium and calcium. However, people with diabetes should avoid canned dried apricots with syrup.
Dates or Khajoor
Dates are a tropical fruit that comes in both dry and wet varieties. Dried dates contain a high amount of dietary fiber, which promotes satiety and suppresses your food cravings. In addition, this iron-rich and delicious dried fruit is ideal for diabetics suffering from anemia.
Despite their sweetness, dates have a low to moderate glycemic index (GI), depending on the variety.
One to study also shows that the five common types of dates (Fara’d, Lulu, Bo Ma’an, Dabbas and Khalas) have a low GI. So, when eaten in moderation, dates are safe for people with diabetes.
Raisins or Kishmish
A 1/2 cup of raisins contains 2.2 grams of protein and 2.7 grams of fiber.
It also has a GI score of 54 to 66, making raisins a low to medium glycemic index dried fruit. Raisins are also suitable for managing anemia and constipation.
Prunes are dried plums with nearly 6.2 grams of fiber in a 1/2 cup serving. As it has a low GI of 29 and a high fiber content, prunes are ideal for overweight or obese diabetics.
Almonds or Badam
Despite their common label, almonds are a type of dried fruit, not true nuts. Nonetheless, soaked almonds are a great diabetes-friendly option with a GI score close to 0.
They are also rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, making them ideal for adults and children.
Each serving of dried figs contains 4g of fiber and 19-26g of sugar, depending on the type.
Due to their low to moderate GI, figs should not raise blood sugar as quickly as other high glycemic index foods. And you can pair it with plain Greek yogurt and nuts to minimize the impact on the GI.
Note from The Fitness Freak
Dried fruit may be smaller and lacking in water, but it’s still fruit and contains lots of nutrients. People with diabetes can consume dried fruit as a healthy alternative to high-calorie, high-carb, or high-glycemic index snacks. Nutritionists recommend eating low to moderate GI dried fruits such as apricots, prunes, dates, walnuts and almonds to stay safe.
Glycemic Index of Nuts
The glycemic index (GI) is a score based on how slowly or how quickly a food raises blood sugar. High GI foods undergo rapid digestion and cause high blood sugar fluctuations.
Low GI foods, on the other hand, undergo slow digestion and absorption. Therefore, they produce a gradual or slow increase in blood sugar and insulin levels.
When you have diabetes, it’s essential to choose foods that won’t raise your blood sugar. So opt for dried fruits with a medium or low GI.
The GI scale goes from 0 to 100. The notation is as follows:
- Low: 55 or less
- AVERAGE: 56–69
- High: 70 or more
There may be variations in the glycemic index of different dried fruits. Some of them are coated in sugar and syrup before drying, which makes them sweeter.
They are candied fruits and often have a very high GI. Other dried fruits contain artificial sugar added after drying, which can also change the GI value.
A to study shows that high GI candied nuts cause a spike in energy for a short time. But then the blood sugar drops rapidly.
As a result, you may experience a sugar slump or sudden fatigue. Therefore, people most prone to sugar crashes or suffering from severe diabetes should consume only natural and plain dried fruits with a low glycemic index.
Here is the reference GI value of different dried fruits:
|Food||Portion||Calorie content (range)|
According to the American Diabetes Association, a person with diabetes can consume between 45 and 60 grams of carbohydrates per day. This equals 3-4 servings of carbs.
For example, a typical quarter cup of dried fruit equals 15 grams of carbs or one serving. You can include this amount in a daily meal plan, as long as there is no added sugar.
Note from The Fitness Freak
Some dried fruits have a low glycemic index, such as prunes, apples, apricots, peaches, almonds, walnuts and pistachios. Figs, dates and raisins have a medium glycemic index. Candied dried fruits (which is not recommended) may have a slightly higher glycemic load, causing blood sugar to rise faster than other forms of dried fruit.
Benefits of dried fruits for diabetes
According to the current research, combining dried fruit with high-GI foods improves postprandial blood glucose more than eating high-GI foods alone. This is because dried fruits tend to displace available carbohydrates. Hence, effectively lowering the overall GI of the meal.
Another one to study shows the ability of 4 dried fruits (dates, apricots, raisins and sultanas) to reduce the glycemic response of white bread. These varieties of dried fruits decrease the glycemic response by displacing half of the available carbohydrates.
Dried fruits are also good immunity boosters. A to study shows that the phenolic compounds in dried fruits and other powerful antioxidants support immunity. Since diabetes weakens the immune system, eating dried fruits that boost immunity is beneficial.
It is always best to eat a variety of fruits in all shapes and colors. However, it is easy to overdo the dried fruits by snacking on them. The good news is that HealthifyPRO CGM can be a powerful tool for monitoring and determining the amount of dried fruit that may lead to better or worse glycemic function.
Additionally, because different people may have very different glycemic reactions to the same foods, CGM can provide personalized data and feedback.
Dried fruit can be a great snack option for people with diabetes due to its longer shelf life compared to fresh fruit.
It’s packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but drying it out can also ramp up the sugar and calorie count. Therefore, if you have diabetes, remember to pay attention to portion sizes and select low glycemic index dried fruits.
People with diabetes should be careful with their intake of dried fruits. If you need help figuring out how to include them in your diet, consult a HealthifyMe nutritionist.
They can help you choose the best options based on your individual needs. Moreover Professional nutritionist and CGM can determine if a particular dried fruit can help maintain your blood sugar control.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Does dried fruit raise blood sugar?
A. Eating nuts in moderation will not raise your blood sugar. Dried fruits with a low or moderate GI are best if you’re worried about the impact on blood sugar. However, dried fruits with high GI scores will significantly affect blood sugar more than low and moderate GI ones. Therefore, it all depends on the type and amount of dried fruits you consume.
Q. Can diabetics eat raisins?
A. Yes, people with diabetes can eat raisins. However, they have a glycemic index of 54 to 66. Therefore, eating raisins in excess or pairing them with carbohydrate-rich foods is not suitable for diabetes. If you snack on raisins, keep your portions small or around 1 teaspoon per day.
Q. Are dates good for diabetes?
A. Yes, dates make a great mid-morning or evening snack on a diabetic diet. However, since there are different types of dates with varying GI scores, it is best to consume them in controlled amounts. So, eat at most 1-2 dates in one sitting or spread three dates equally throughout the day.
Q. Are cashews suitable for diabetics?
A. Cashews are a rich source of beneficial fats for people with diabetes. They have a low GI of 22. Therefore, cashews are not likely to cause a significant spike in your blood sugar when consumed in moderate amounts. However, avoid cashews coated in salt and other flavorings.
Q. Is dried kiwi fruit good for diabetics?
A. The nutritional value of kiwi fruit makes it a brilliant addition to your diabetes-friendly diet. It is high in fiber and low GI, making it a good option for people with diabetes. You can add dried kiwi to salads, oatmeal or smoothies.
Q. What nuts can type 2 diabetics eat?
A. No dried fruit is totally out of the question, even if you have diabetes. It all depends on the size of the portions. However, it is better to choose dried fruits with a low to moderate glycemic index. This way you will be sure to minimize blood sugar spikes. Some examples of dried fruits with a low to moderate GI are dried apples, peaches, figs, almonds, raisins, apricots, walnuts, and cashews.
Q. Are almonds good for diabetes?
A. The GI of almonds is almost 0 or no more than 5. This is because the small amounts of carbohydrates in almonds are mostly fiber. Therefore, almonds are good for diabetes.
Sources of support
1. Hernández-Alonso, Pablo, Lucía Camacho-Barcia, Mònica Bulló and Jordi Salas-Salvadó. 2017. “Nuts and Dried Fruits: An Update on Their Beneficial Effects on Type 2 Diabetes” Nutrients 9, no. 7:673.
2. Alkaabi, JM, Al-Dabbagh, B., Ahmad, S., Saadi, HF, Gariballa, S., & Ghazali, MA (2011). Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects. Nutrition Diary, ten59.
3. P Dhiman, K Soni, S Singh, Nutritional value of dry fruits and their vital importance – A review, PharmaTutor, 2014, 2(3), 102-108
4. Zhu, R., Fan, Z., Dong, Y., Liu, M., Wang, L. & Pan, H. (2018). Postprandial glycemic responses to meals containing dried fruit in healthy adults: results of a randomized trial. Nutrients, 10(6), 694.
5. Viguiliouk, E., Jenkins, AL, Blanco Mejia, S., Sievenpiper, JL and Kendall, CWC (2018). Effect of dried fruits on postprandial glycaemia: a randomized trial of acute feeding. Nutrition & Diabetes, 8(1), 59.
6. Chang, Sui Kiat & Alasalvar, Cesarettin & Shahidi, Fereidoon. (2016). Dried Fruit Review: Phytochemicals, Antioxidant Effectiveness and Health Benefits. Journal of Functional Foods. 21. 113-132. 10.1016/j.jff.2015.11.034.