Can diabetics eat strawberries? Yes, diabetics can eat strawberries in limited amounts, as part of an overall clean, varied and balanced diet. The intake allowed must be tailored to their individual nutritional requirements and the restrictions of their condition. The benefits of strawberries for diabetes stem from the fruit’s low glycemic index, moderately low carbohydrate and sugar content and good fiber, all factors to consider in a diabetic diet. The advantages of eating moderate amounts of the fruit with diabetes include maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, benefits for blood pressure and blood cholesterol profile.
Why are strawberries OK for diabetics to eat?
First of all, because of their nutritional profile which accommodates the restrictions of a diabetic diet such as the requirement to keep a low total carbohydrate and low sugar intake in order to be able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and prevent related complications. Secondly, because because of a good antioxidant profile with newly found long-term benefits for the condition, including anti-inflammatory benefits, lower risks of cardiovascular disease and nerve damage.
Strawberries sugar and carbohydrate content. 100 g of fresh strawberries have 7.68 g of total carbohydrates, of which 4.89 g are simple sugars and 2 g are dietary fiber. Overall, values are moderately low for a fruit and, if intake is limited to small amounts, consumption of the fruit should not raise blood sugar levels to unhealthy values. The dietary fiber even helps prevent spikes by slowing down sugar absorption into the bloodstream which is good for diabetes.
Strawberries glycemic index: low (40)
The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that measures how fast sugars resulting from the consumption of plant foods 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. Ideally, diabetics are advised to choose foods with a low GI, the lower the better. Strawberries have a GI of 40, which is low, and means they can be consumed safely with diabetes, in limited amounts, as part of a varied and balanced diet. The major benefit for diabetes of low GI foods such as strawberries is better blood sugar control, but only if intake is low. If you eat too much at once, the sugars will accumulate, flood the system and raise blood sugar levels too fast too much, making glycemic index values irrelevant.
Strawberries nutrition facts relevant for diabetes
1) Calories: 32 kcal/100 g of strawberries
2) Sugar: 4.89 g/100 g
3) Dietary fiber: 2 g/100 g
4) Total carbohydrates: 7.68 g/100 g (includes sugar and fiber)
5) Fat: 0.3 g/100 g
6) Protein: 0.67 g/100 g
Vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin C: 58.8 mg/100 g (70% of current recommended daily intake, RDI)
Manganese: 0.386 mg (18% of RDI)
Potassium: 153 mg (3% of RDI)
Minimal amounts (less than 5%) of B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9), choline, vitamins E and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
How many strawberries can a diabetic eat in a day?
There are no official guidelines as to how many strawberries you can eat with diabetes. However, most medical professionals and nutrition experts recommend keeping to 30-45 g of carbohydrates per meal, depending on the particulars and severity of your condition. According to the USDA Food Composition Database, 100 g of fresh strawberries provides about 7.68 g of carbohydrates, of which 4.89 g are simple sugars and 2 g are dietary fiber.
1 cup of whole strawberries (estimated at 144 g) provides 11.06 g of carbohydrates, of which 7.04 g are simple sugars and 2.9 g are fiber. This means that a diabetic patient may have a small serving of fresh strawberries after a low carbohydrate meal or a light protein meal.
How to eat strawberries with diabetes
Ideally, the diabetic patient must see their doctor or a nutritionist with experience in diabetic diets and receive a personalized eating plan that includes recommendations for the amount of total carbohydrates (this includes simple sugars) they can eat in a day and intakes of carbohydrates structured per meal. The diabetic must then determine the carbohydrate content of food to make sure they don’t exceed recommended values. Based on this, they may plan ahead for eating fruit such as strawberries, cherries or bananas.
In theory, the more severe the diabetes (the more medication you are on, the more strict your dietary requirements etc.), the smaller your intake of carbohydrates per meal may be. The better control you have over your diabetes, the less complications and the better your insulin reactivity, the less strict your carbohydrate intake per meal. The main purpose of eating for diabetes is to make sure you don’t experience blood sugar spikes. If at any point you feel sick, nauseous, tired or in any way unwell after having even very small amount of strawberries or other fruit, then consider seeing your doctor for some tests and a revised eating plan.
Feelings of unwell or simply feeling sick after eating fruits, sweet or not, strawberries or other, is indicative of a bad insulin response (insulin resistance) and points to a need of reassessing your condition, retesting blood sugar levels and re-evaluating your eating and dietary recommendations. If you feel sick after eating half a cup of fresh strawberries, then it may be the amount is too much for you and you need to reduce it substantially, either because it brings a too high sugar contribution or because of what you ate prior to the fruit which may have already provided a sufficient carbohydrate intake for you and the fruit serving came as an excess.
Do strawberries raise blood sugar levels?
This is a question many diabetics ask. Yes, they do, strawberries raise blood sugar levels. All fruits do. All vegetables do too. And grains and even some nuts and seeds. Basically any plant food which contains digestible carbohydrates (including simple sugars, but not fiber or cellulose) will raise blood sugar levels to certain extents. Rising blood sugar levels after eating carbohydrates is just the body’s way of extracting energy from a type of food. As long as you eat small servings, the rise is manageable and simply provides energy to use.
Only when intake of carbohydrates is excessive does it become bad for you, especially with diabetes, because the lowered insulin sensitivity characteristic of the metabolic condition makes the body unable to cope with processing higher amounts of sugar present in the bloodstream at one time. Insulin being the hormone that extracts the sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream to move it out to the liver, muscle cells and fat cells. This is also why the solution is to eat limited amounts of carbohydrates per meal in order for the body to be able to cope with the situation and not be overwhelmed. And the reason why diabetics are recommended limited amounts of carbohydrates per meal per day and generally limit their intake of fruits, refined cereals and starchy vegetables, all important sources of carbohydrates.
Fresh strawberries vs frozen strawberries and diabetes
Fresh and plain frozen strawberries have about the same nutritional profile and can be substituted for one another in a diabetic diet. They may be eaten plain after a low carbohydrate, light protein meal or as a snack, ideally with a source of protein (a low fat Greek yogurt or a bit of goat cheese, for example). However, always read the label to see if the frozen fruit have any added sugar or sweeteners and limit intake to one small serving.
Strawberries health benefits for diabetes
Provided intake is compliant with your individual nutritional requirements, the restrictions of your condition and the recommendations of your healthcare professional, eating strawberries with diabetes provides the following health benefits:
1) Better blood sugar control due to carbs, sugar and fiber content and low glycemic index.
2) Improved insulin sensitivity thanks to low glycemic index and other nutritional factors.
3) Minor benefits for wound healing as a result of a good vitamin C content.
4) Improved digestion and minor weight loss benefits thanks to good fiber and low calorie and fat content.
5) Better blood cholesterol profile, minor benefits for blood pressure and overall lower risks of heart disease from fiber content, potassium and antioxidants (vitamin C, manganese and flavonoids).
6) Anti-inflammatory benefits from vitamin C and flavonoid antioxidants such as fisetin.
7) Benefits for diabetes-related neuropathy thanks to antioxidants such as vitamin C and flavonoids and B vitamins.