Strawberries: Good or Bad for Diabetes?

When it comes to eating strawberries for diabetes, if the diabetic patient is in control of their diet and condition and has a relatively good insulin response that allows the introduction of small amounts of fresh fruit into their diet, then consumption may be beneficial for them. Of course, strawberries are still a fruit, albeit one with a good nutritional profile diabetes-wise, and so must be consumed in limited amounts with the condition.

As they are still a source of simple sugars and carbohydrates, an excessive intake is bad for a diabetic and will cause blood sugar spikes and associated side effects and complications, from feelings of unwell to weight gain, cardiovascular disease and long-term nerve damage. Provided intake is limited, strawberries are a good food to eat for diabetes. And here are 8 great reasons to eat them:

Strawberries good for diabetics

1) Low glycemic index (40) for steady blood sugar levels.
2) Moderately low sugar and carbohydrate content, making strawberries a better food for the metabolic condition than pineapple and even bananas. For example, 100 g of strawberries has 7.68 g of carbohydrates, of which 4.89 g are simple sugars and 2 g are dietary fiber. 100 g of pineapple has 13 g of carbs, of which 10 g are sugars and 1.4 g fiber. 100 g of bananas has 22 g of carbs, of which 12 g are sugars and 2.6 g fiber.
3) Low fat and low calorie content (0.3 g of fat/100 g and only 32 kcal), helps maintain a healthy weight.
4) Good fiber content (2 g per 100 g of fruit) which provides minor benefits for weight management, an important aspect for diabetic patients.
5) Contribute to faster wound healing from generous vitamin C content (58.8 mg/100 g) which promotes collagen production and skin regeneration, accelerating wound healing processes.
6) Benefits for hypertension thanks to potassium (153 mg/100 g) which helps lower blood pressure.
7) Improved blood cholesterol profile and anti-inflammatory benefits from antioxidants (vitamin C, manganese, flavonoids such as fisetin and red pigmented antioxidants.
8) Possible benefits for diabetes-related nerve damage from vitamin C, small B vitamins amounts and especially antioxidants such as the flavonoid fisetin, according to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

It’s important to understand that strawberries do raise blood sugar levels because they are a source of sugar and carbohydrates which are easily digestible and just as easily absorbed into the bloodstream, contributing to blood sugar levels. And this is just the body’s way of extracting energy from carbohydrates. Still, a limited intake is OK and simply means eating strawberries produces a steadier, more stable rise that is better managed by the body even with certain levels of insulin resistance specific to diabetes. And all of this is a result of the low glycemic index of the fruit.

Strawberries glycemic index: 40 (low)

The glycemic index is essentially a scale that measures how fast the carbohydrates in a food, usually plant food, raise blood sugar levels. Below 55 is a low glycemic index. Between 55-69 is a medium glycemic index. Between 70-100 is a high glycemic index. Strawberries glycemic index is 40, which is low. This means that eating a limited amount of the fruit shouldn’t cause extreme fluctuations in levels of blood sugar which should benefit diabetic patients, provided the rest of their diet receives the same level of consideration.

Strawberries for diabetes

Strawberries for diabetes prevention

Studies show that eating fruits rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants and especially fruits with a low glycemic index, such as strawberries, provides a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, consumption must be moderate and tailored to one’s individual nutritional requirements.
Source 1: Dietary flavonoid intakes and risk of type 2 diabetes in US men and women, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012. By Wedick NM, Pan A, Cassidy A, Rimm EB, Sampson L, Rosner B, et al.
Source 2: The relation of low glycaemic index fruit consumption to glycaemic control and risk factors for coronary heart disease in type 2 diabetes, published in Diabetologia, 2011;54:271-9. By Jenkins DJ, Srichaikul K, Kendall CW, Sievenpiper JL, Abdulnour S, Mirrahimi A, et al.

Strawberries and diabetes type 2

When consumed in limited amounts, as part of an overall balanced and varied diet, suited to your individual nutritional requirements and the restrictions of your condition, strawberries are safe and actually good to eat with diabetes type 2.

Strawberries and diabetes type 1

Diabetes type 1 is a more complex form of the disease, one that requires a stricter diet and has overall more rigid eating requirements. It’s best to see your doctor or a nutritionist for a personalized eating plan and inquire how much sugar and total carbohydrates you can eat in a day. Based on this, determine the total carbohydrate and sugar content in your food and plan ahead for when you want to eat strawberries. Usually only very small servings are allowed. The goal is to maintain a healthy weight and stable blood sugar levels to prevent diabetes-related complications such as nerve damage or kidney damage.

Strawberries and prediabetes

The term refers to continual high blood sugar levels or hyperglycemia and represents a risk factor for diabetes. It is often caused by an unbalanced diet providing too much dietary carbohydrates and sugars. The best course of action is to revise your diet, reduce intake of high-carbohydrate, high-sugar, processed foods and lead a clean, balanced and varied diet. And in order for the diet to provide much needed variety, fresh fruits may be included too, but only in limited amounts (small servings, not too often). Some form of fresh fruit is almost always a source of benefits, even for someone with pre-diabetes.

Strawberries and gestational diabetes

There are nutritional aspects of strawberries that are beneficial to pregnancy and gestational diabetes, including the low glycemic index, low-calorie, low-fat, good fiber, vitamin C and potassium content, all of which provide benefits for weight management, digestion, skin and cardiovascular health, particularly blood pressure. However, because pregnancy is not the same for every woman and gestational diabetes can take many forms, from mild to severe, it’s safest to see your doctor for a personalized eating plan. Although your doctor may not recommend eating too many fruits during this time, they are not excluded altogether from your diet and you may certainly be able to enjoy the occasional treat. Considering you have to be more selective about what you can eat, it’s better to opt for low glycemic fruits such as strawberries, but limit intake to small amounts.

Strawberries side effects for diabetes and more

An excessive intake of strawberries or any fruit really is bad for diabetes. No food is universally healthy, including strawberries. Eating too much (big servings, multiple servings a day, every day) will ultimately cause the relatively moderate amounts of sugar in the fruit to accumulate and raise blood sugar levels to unhealthy values. Some people have a lower tolerance to sugar intake than others, depending on the severity of their insulin resistance, which may cause them to feel sick after eating relatively small amounts of the fruit. In addition to reducing intake to even smaller amounts, dividing a serving over the course of an entire day, it could help to eat strawberries after a light protein meal because the protein and small amounts of fat present with it will delay digestion and absorption of sugar into the bloodstream contributing to steadier blood sugar levels.

Another side effect that can occur is some people experience an allergy to strawberries which can be mild (restricted to the mouth) or severe, generalized, potentially resulting in anaphylactic shock. If you know or suspect you have an allergy to strawberries (or any other food), refrain from eating them in any form or amount because they are bad for you. Instead choose other fruits with a similar nutrition to get the same benefits for diabetes, but without the side effects.

This post was updated on Tuesday / August 4th, 2020 at 10:45 PM