Can Diabetics Eat Dry Fruits

Can Diabetics Eat Dry Fruits? 5 Safe Choices

You all probably heard about the restricted diet charts of diabetes. As excess elevated blood glucose is responsible for diabetes, people tend to choose low sugar quantity with a low glycemic index value.

Dry fruits, due to its manufacturing process, are concentrated in sugar values. Most of them have a high glycemic index.  So, it should not be recommended by conventional thoughts.

Is this cause enough to avoid them? Well, my answer will be no. Dry fruits have countless health benefits that are also necessary for diabetic patients. So, a moderate amount of some selected ones must have to be present in everyday meals.

How Dry Fruits are made? 

How Dry Fruits are made

Dehydration of fresh fruits is done to form dry fruits. Sun-drying or special dehydrators, dryers are used to remove the water content. The process of producing dry fruits was usually done in Mediterranean countries. 

Dry fruits can be of two types. Dehiscent and Indehiscent. We usually denote the dehiscent type as dry fruits.

They have their seeds enclosed in a pod—Eg. Raisin, dates, dried apricots, dry figs, banana, kiwi, etc. Here, the natural fleshy fruits are dehydrated naturally or synthetically to form dry fruits.

The nuts are the indehiscent type. They don’t have their seeds enclosed in a pod—Eg. Almond, walnut, pistachio, and cashew nuts.

These are better than the other.

No other fruits are as preferable as the seasonal fresh fruits. But in many areas in the world, plenty of fresh fruits are not available for everyone.

The changing climate throughout the world and chemical contents limit our ability to have authentic, fresh fruits.

In a diabetic diet, low glycemic fruits have a special place. Here it can be replaced by moderate amounts of dry fruits easily.

Health benefits of Dried Fruits 

Health benefits of Dried Fruits 

After the removal of water, most of the nutrients remain the same. They provide numerous health-related benefits. These benefits make them worth eating, even in diabetes.

  • Dry fruits are enriched in vitamins, minerals, and fibers that are essential for the body.
  • Polyphenol, an antioxidant substance present in dry fruits, acts as a natural colorant and improves blood flow, digestion, oxidative stress. It also decreases the risk of other diseases.
  • On heart Dry fruits like cashew, almond, dates, pistachio, and walnut have soul-saving properties.

Walnut has omega-6, which prevents arrhythmia.

Pistachio prevents heart disease by its vitamin B6 contents.

Dates prevent atherosclerosis of heart arteries, and cashew improves cardiovascular health due to its monounsaturated fat.

Almond contains omega-three fatty acids, which is usually found in fish oil. So it is also cardioprotective.

  • In constipation The high fiber content and natural laxative effect of almond, dates, raisin, pistachio, walnuts help deal with constipation.
  • In anemia Most dry fruits, especially almonds, can increase the formation of blood cells, and in this way, the hemoglobin and anemia correction is possible.
  • In blood cholesterol Dry fruits like pistachio, almond, walnut can reduce bad cholesterol from the blood and prevent dyslipidemia.
  • In cancer prevention Following recent studies about dry fruits, it has been found that regular eating of dry fruits in a moderated way can reduce the chance of cancer.
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Almonds directly can prevent breast cancer. Besides, all the dry fruits with their antioxidants can prevent the risk of developing cancer.

  • Boosting up the immune system Due to high-quality nutrients, eating dry fruits will boost our immunity.
  • In depression and anxiety The antioxidants content can also fight with depression and anxiety.
  • In athletes Athletes need immediate energy after exercise and practice. Dry fruits can provide a high point in a short time, and also the energy lasts longer.
  • For hunger control Like the fresh fruits, dry ones also have a remarkable ability to give the feeling of fullness and satiety for a more extended period. This property of dry fruits helps in hunger control. So it is beneficial for those who want to lose weight.
  • Others Besides all these, dry fruits can delay the aging process, prevent hair loss, protect different body organs, etc.

Although dry fruits are pretty expensive, the majority of their benefits can compensate for that.

Rationale of keeping Dry fruits in Diabetic diet

Rationale-of-keeping-Dry-fruits-in-Diabetic-diet

A diabetic diet doesn’t mean giving up all the carbohydrate foods. Despite having a sugar content, dry fruits are equally important for a person with diabetes and a nondiabetic person.

One thing you must have to keep in mind is that excess of anything is wrong. This proverb also goes with the consumption of the dry fruit.

For example, one cup of grapes contains 27 grams of carbohydrates. Conversely, a cup of raisin( dried grapes)  has a carbohydrate content of 115 grams.

So there will be rapid and massive blood glucose elevation after consumption of raisins because of their large(3 times more) carbohydrate content than fresh grapes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, a diabetic person can eat 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per day. This is equivalent to 3-4 servings of carbohydrates in a day.

Experts suggest that, as a diabetic, you can eat one serving,  ¼th cup of dry fruits a day, which contains 15 grams of carbohydrates.

It should be taken in mid-morning snacks or evening snacks replaced with fresh fruits. You also need to consult with your doctor or nutritionist about the overall diet chart.

Another thing is essential in the case of eating dry fruits. The people with diabetes must avoid those dry fruits coated with sugar or dipped in sugar syrup. This extra sugar is a kind of poison for the person.

The Glycemic index measures how rapidly a carbohydrate food can raise the blood glucose level compared to glucose or white bread. Rapid blood glucose spike is not acceptable as it, in turn, increases the insulin level, and thus diabetes worsens.

Knowing the glycemic index of every dry fruit will give a good concept about what to eat and what not toDoes tapioca starch spike insulin? eat. The low glycemic varieties are preferable in diabetes.

Dry fruits can be used as an alternative to sugar while making any dessert because of their sweet taste.

Hypoglycemia is a common adverse effect of insulin intake and diabetes. The diabetic persons are told to carry some sweets and chocolates with them. Here, dry fruits also can be taken. 2 tablespoons of raisins are enough to treat hypoglycemia in diabetic.

Nuts as dry fruits in diabetes

Nuts as dry fruits in diabetes  

Nuts are a great source of energy. Eating a small amount can increase drive towards work.  A study of the American Diabetes Association recognized nuts as a top-listed food choice in a diabetic diet.

Nuts are regarded as dry fruits, though it is not dried or dehydrated. We have already known about some benefits of nuts in the previous topic.

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In diabetes, weight control is a big issue. Many people can’t lose weight due to the physical burden of appetite. Nuts work magically in this case.

You can just mix different types and eat them in your breakfast or mid-morning or evening snacks. The carb’s measurements of nuts should not be exceeded 15 grams a day.

Cardiovascular diseases are developed as a complication of diabetes. Walnuts and almonds have omega three fatty acids, which are cardioprotective. Pistachios also improve cardiovascular health.

If blood sugar elevates rapidly after a meal, the chance of developing heart disease increases more. Almonds can inhibit this tendency of a rapid spike of blood glucose after a meal.

Nuts have protein, fat, mineral, vitamins, and fiber. The fat, protein, and fiber content can cause slow digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. Thus blood glucose elevation also becomes slow. This is needed for diabetes control.

Besides, the immune system of diabetic persons is comparatively lower. Nuts in the regular diet can improve immunity. 

Drawbacks of eating Dry fruits 

Drawbacks of eating Dry fruits 

Eating dry fruits in excess amounts can cause serious health effects.

  • Some dry fruits are coated with sugar before drying for their longer preservation. These are called candied fruits. Diabetic persons should avoid these types.
  • Natural fruit sugar, fructose are also present in dry fruits. Excess amounts of this sugar will cause weight gain and worsen diabetes.
  • Dry fruits contain fiber. Excess intake of fiber may cause abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, etc.
  • Huge calorie count of dry fruits is responsible for weight gain.
  • Salted and oiled varieties of nuts are a total waste. They have no useful role in the diet. Instead, they will increase the chance of heart disease.
  • Sugar-coated dry fruits are high in glycemic index, and so they cause immediate hyperglycemia, and people quickly become fatigued.
  • Tooth decay occurs in eating sugary dry fruits.
  • Preservatives like sulfatides are used to prevent discoloration of dry fruits. IT causes allergic reactions such as rash, cramps, etc.
  • Problems of storage and handling may produce toxins, fungus, etc in the fruits.

How to overcome these drawbacks?     

  • Amount moderation(1 small handful or ¼th cup)
  • Avoid coating of sugar syrups
  • Avoid a salted and oiled variety of nuts. 

Five safe choices of dry fruits in diabetes

 Considering all the merits and demerits, a diabetic person can add some dry fruits in his diet. The nuts variety is more preferable.  Here, I’m giving five safe choices regarding dry fruits

  1. Almonds

Almonds

Among all the dry fruits, nuts are the best, and almonds are superior. According to different studies, almonds can control blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease.

This nut can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) levels in the body, potentially blocking arteries. Thus almonds prevent heart disease.

Also, it has omega three fatty acids, vitamin E, which is the unsaturated fat and very beneficial for the heart and other organs.

People with diabetes usually have a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an essential macronutrient for bones and teeth. Almonds provide magnesium in the body.

  1. Walnuts

Walnuts

These nuts provide more energy than the other varieties. But it has no adverse effect on diabetes. Somewhat it decreases the blood glucose level.

Increasing weight is a big concern for diabetic people. Walnut consumption gives a feeling of fullness for a long time and helps in weight reduction.

Like almonds, walnuts also contain vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, which are cardioprotective.

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People who eat walnuts before the occurrence of diabetes are silently reducing their chance of developing it.

Walnuts halt the inflammation process.

  1. Pistachios

Pistachios

High fiber content of pistachios helps in weight management, and the unsaturated fat and vitamin B6 have effects on the heart. Some studies also talk about its ability to control blood sugar.

  1. Dried apricots

Dried-apricots

Both the fresh and dried apricots are rich in many vital nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, iron, potassium, beta carotene, etc. These nutrients make them a great snack.

Some research says, dried apricots are healthier than fresh ones. The beta carotene, anthocyanin, procyanin, etc. in the fruits have a blood glucose-lowering effect. So they are more beneficial in the diet of type 2 diabetes.

Dried apricots are also useful in the correction of anemia, and they can boost up immunity.

  1. Cashews

Cashews

They can increase HDL or good cholesterol and protect the heart. They are rich in vitamin B6 and vitamin E. So they can improve the immune system. They keep a person satiated for a pretty good time.

Nutritional values of some dry fruits 

Dry fruits Amount GI ( 0 to 100)Carbohydrate(gm) Fiber (gm)ProteinFatCalories
Almond1 cup20112045529
Walnut100gm1471565654
Pistachio100gm1528102045562
Cashew100gm22303.31844553
Peanut100gm131692649567
Dried apricot½ cup30-32414.72.20.3157
Dried apples100gm29142.40.30.252
Raisin½ cup54-66572.72.20.3217
Prune½ cup29566.220.3209

Summary

Diabetic persons often get confused about their food choices and become frustrated. Sometimes they think of skipping snacks.

This is a true misconception. You can surely enjoy healthy snacks, even if you have diabetes. Dry fruits in a modest amount is a healthier snack option.

Overcoming the harmful effects, one can eat dry fruits every day. I have already discussed the more beneficial ones. Still, you need to contact your health care provider before including anything new in the diet.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30360498/
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  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31540227/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31683759/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28536126/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30764511/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25747270/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29927053/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26132858/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26561065/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30661699/

 

Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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