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9 Types of “Fruit” to Avoid If You Have Diabetes

Sweet news! Fruit is dietitian-approved for people with diabetes. The secret to enjoying it without blood sugar spikes is to avoid extra-sugary "fruit" impostors.

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variety of dried fruits full frameegal/Getty Images

Sweetened Dried Fruit

While they may seem innocent, some dried fruits can be deceptively sweet. That’s because food manufacturers add white sugar after the drying process to counteract any bitterness. One-quarter cup of dried cranberries, for example, has 28 grams more sugar—the equivalent of a whopping seven teaspoons—compared to the same amount of fresh cranberries.

Editor’s Tip: Check the ingredients of packaged dried fruit and skip it when sugar is listed.

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Plastic cups of fruit cocktail at the marketWestend61/Getty Images

Fruit Cocktail

It’s not the peaches, pears, grapes, pineapple and cherries you that need to be wary of—it’s the corn syrup and sugar that’s added to most versions of canned fruit salad. This added ingredient can up the sugar by 33%! To avoid the extra rush, look for those that say “No sugar added” on the label or make your own high fiber fruit salad instead.

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berry fruit snacks close upkellyvandellen/Getty Images

Fruit Snacks

Popular with kids, these candy-like gummies come in deceivingly cute fruit shapes. Yes, they contain some real fruit in the form of puree but it comes alongside an added glucose-spiking trio of fruit juice, corn syrup, and sugar. Another reason to avoid them: the sticky, waxy consistency makes the sugar difficult to remove from the crevices of teeth, leaving you more prone to cavities (unlike fresh fruit which can help you avoid tooth decay!).

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pouring red fruit juice into glassCatherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Fruit Juice

It’s true that fruit juices are often packed with good-for-you nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium, but that doesn’t mean they’re a great option for people with diabetes. The reason? Fruit juice—even the “100% real juice” and “no sugar added” kinds—are missing one key component that whole fruit has: fiber, a slow-to-digest carbohydrate that helps dull rises in blood sugar. For a truly hydrating option, try a delicious zero-sugar fruit-infused water instead.

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two berry smoothies on gray counter topnerudol/Getty Images

Fruit Smoothies

Unlike real fruit, these drinks usually contain zero blood-sugar-balancing fiber. That’s because most are made with water and natural sugar pulled from fruit, not the fibrous roughage. Bottled, premade versions can be even worse because manufacturers often add extra sugar, too.

To enjoy the benefits with the glucose spikes, blend a healthier smoothie at home using whole frozen or fresh fruit and sweetening with one-half of a banana (instead of juice or straight sugar) instead.

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open can of pineapple close upDmitrii Ivanov/Getty Images

Canned Pineapple

If you opt for versions packed in syrup, you’ll get a whopping 27 grams (or more than six teaspoons) of added sugar. People with diabetes have good reason to steer clear of pineapple canned in its own juice, too.

The reason? Fresh pineapple has almost 10 grams less sugar and nearly five times more vitamin C, which is linked to increased insulin sensitivity.

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yogurt covered trail mix and dried fruitpamela_d_mcadams/Getty Images

Yogurt Covered Fruit

It’s surprising because yogurt is packed with good-for-you nutrients and so is fruit; however, when these two foods are put together into snack food, corn syrup, sugar and palm oil are also added. So unlike a bowl of fresh yogurt and fruit, these uber sweet treats can cause unnecessary rises in blood glucose, plus be a source of saturated fat which is linked to increases in cardiovascular disease.

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frozen berries full frameMarcel ter Bekke/Getty Images

Frozen Fruit

Plucking bags of perfectly ripened fruit from the freezer aisle to make frozen fruit recipes can be a great idea. Unlike fresh fruit, it’s harvested at peak season and flash frozen, which means it maintains maximum nutrients. However, some manufacturers add extra sugar to the mix before freezing, though, so double-check the ingredient label and choose a brand where fruit is the only ingredient.

Amelia Sherry, MPH, RD, CDN, CDCES
Amelia Sherry is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator in Hasting-on-Hudson, New York. She writes about eating, foods, nutrition, parenting, and women. Her work has been published in Reader's Digest, Family Circle, Self, Redbook, Latina, Woman's World, Today's Dietitian, among other publications. She earned a MPH in Nutrition from CUNY School of Public Health.

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