You can eat apricots with diabetes safely provided you only have small amounts at once. As a fruit, apricots are a significant source of carbohydrates which contribute to blood sugar (or glucose) levels. But as long as intake is kept low, effects on blood sugar metabolism are minimal and not likely to affect the diabetic patient in the long run. Serving size is best determined based on the diabetic patient’s individual nutritional requirements and the restrictions of their condition. Ideally, the fruit should be eaten whole, pulp and skin, because the skin provides dietary fiber with hypoglycemic effects.
Overall, apricots and diabetes are a relatively good pair and the fresh fruit a good addition to a diabetic diet in limited amounts. Dried apricots and apricot juice, on the other hand, are too high in carbohydrates, most of which are simple sugars, and raise blood sugar levels too fast too much. But the effects of fresh apricots on blood sugar metabolism are minimal compared to those of the juice and dried fruit, hence the preference for the fresh fruit if you have diabetes (in limited amounts, of course).
How much sugar is in apricots?
Sugar content may differ depending on variety, degree of ripeness and other factors. On average, 100 g of fresh apricots has 11 g of carbohydrates of which 9 g simple sugars and 2 g indigestible dietary fiber. 1 apricot with an estimated weight of 35 g provides 3.9 g of carbohydrates of which 3.2 g simple sugars and 0.7 g dietary fiber. 1 cup of apricot halves with an estimated weight of 155 g provides 17.2 g of carbohydrates of which 14.3 g simple sugars and 3 g dietary fiber.
Assuming a person has 2 to 4 small apricots, then they would be getting around 7.8 to 15.6 g of carbohydrates of which 6.4 to 12.8 g sugar (about as much as if they were eating 50 to 100 g of sweet cherries). It’s not an excessive amount at all and one not likely to cause extreme fluctuations in blood sugar levels, even with diabetes. The extent to which apricots affect blood sugar metabolism can be predicted using the glycemic index and glycemic load scales.
Apricots glycemic index and load
The glycemic index (GI) measures how fast the carbohydrates in a plant food raise blood sugar levels. Below 55 is a low GI. Between 55 and 69 is a moderate GI. Between 70-100 is a high GI.
Apricots glycemic index is a little over 30, which makes them low on the GI scale, which is good.
The glycemic load (GL) measures how fast the carbohydrates in a serving of plant food raise blood sugar levels. Below 10 is a low GL. Between 11-19 is a moderate GL. Over 20 is a high GL.
Apricots glycemic load is 3 (low), which is also good news if you have diabetes.
Apricots and blood sugar effects
What the low glycemic index (around 30) and glycemic load (3) mean is that eating apricots in moderation doesn’t raise blood sugar levels excessively. The key to enjoying the fruit and its benefits, even with diabetes, is to limit intake to small servings, preferably one serving a day. To further reduce effects on blood sugar, you can spread your serving over the course of an entire day. For example, eat a small apricot after lunch and another one after a midday snack – if you can eat two, that is.
It’s also best to have your fruit after a meal, not before. And because carbohydrates are limited in a diabetic diet, plan your meals ahead for when you want to eat fruit. Calculate how much carbs you’ll be getting in a serving of fruit and eat less carbs and more protein in the meal preceding the fruit snack. It’s best to eat apricots with skin because that’s where most of the fiber in the fruit is. And fiber is good for diabetes because it slows down the rate of sugar absorption into the bloodstream, reducing the glycemic effects of the fruit.
It helps to get some fat from walnuts, peanut butter, yogurt, cheese or similar foods to help your body absorb and use the vitamin A from apricots (which comes from orange-colored carotenoid antioxidants). Vitamin A is important for healthy eyesight, skin and a strong immune system, all of which are typically affected with diabetes. Exercising after having fruit helps improve glycemic response and insulin control.
How many apricots can diabetics eat a day?
Amounts of the likes of 100-150 g of the fresh fruit or 3-4 small apricots at 35 g each can be well tolerated by many diabetics. However, all diabetic patients should adapt their intake of the fresh fruit to their individual nutritional requirements. This may mean that some diabetics can eat only 1 small apricot, others may tolerate 2 or more. There is not right answer, no universal solution that works for everyone – each person is different and so is their tolerance to certain foods.
See your doctor or a nutrition expert and get a personalized eating plan that includes recommendations for a maximum intake of carbohydrates per day and per meal. Based on this, you can determine your ideal serving size of apricots and other fruits so that you don’t exceed your recommended intakes and prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels.