Consuming fruit and vegetables often and willingly has always been the first recommendation of nutritionists. While there are no recommended limits for vegetables, when talking about fruit it should be remembered that the amount of sugar contained in it, in some cases, could be particularly high. This means that for diabetic patients and for those who are following particular diets, consuming large quantities of fruit may not be advisable. Together with Dr. Manuela Pastore, a dietician at Humanitas, we have tried to understand the recommended doses and, above all, the fruits to be preferred.
Fruit and glycemic load
The body’s response to carbohydrate consumption (CHO) depends on many factors such as chemical form, type of starch, presence of fibers and antinutrients or fructooligosaccharides, presence of fat, degree of ripeness of the fruit, cooking determines a speed of digestion and different absorption. In addition, the amount that is consumed daily is decisive.
Especially for patients with type 1 diabetes or who need to avoid post-meal glycemic peaks, it is important to consider two parameters: glycemic index and glycemic load.
The glycemic index is defined as the percentage ratio between the glycemic response to a given food and the glycemic response of the same amount of CHO contained in a reference food (bread or glucose). The glycemic index of a food does not refer to the amount of carbohydrates contained in the food itself, but is based solely on the rate at which the carbohydrates contained in that food can be digested and absorbed.
A parameter that takes into account both the quantity of CHOs and their different quality is the glycemic load (GL), which is obtained by multiplying the quantity of CHO of a food by its glycemic index divided by 100. The glycemic load, also taking into account the amount of carbohydrates contained in the food, therefore gives more complete information than the glycemic index.
The importance of fibers
When we talk about CHO in fruit, it is not only a question of evaluating the carbohydrate content but also the presence of fibers, the degree of ripeness and the quantity consumed, in what form we take it and what are the foods with which we associate it. The higher the fiber content, the lower the post-meal hyperglycemic peak. That’s why 200 g of orange juice or grape juice or apple juice, which do not contain fiber, produce a higher glycemic rise than the same amount of fresh fruit.
Here are the fruits that contain the most sugar
The quantity of fruit more than the type of fruit makes the difference on the glycemic peak measured at 1-2 hours. Fruits such as grapes, bananas, persimmons, figs can, if consumed in the right portion, have the same glycemic load of apple, orange, pear, and pineapple.
An example: an average apple has a weight of 170 g with a glycemic load of 10, a value very similar to 100 g of banana or grapes that have respectively a GL of 9 and 8. An average orange of 170 g has a glycemic load of 6.8.
Fruit juices are generally not recommended except under certain conditions.
Are exotic fruits such as mango, papaya, avocado and maracuja recommended?
Avocado is a fruit with completely different characteristics than other fruits; it has a very low CHO content compared to a very high percentage of fat and a good intake of vegetable proteins. If included in a low-calorie dietary plan, it can be considered the appropriate replacement with the fats contained in a meal. The maracuja or passion fruit has a high content of CHO and fiber, almost double that of the most common fruits grown in our countryside so it can occasionally be included in the diet in the appropriate portions. Mango is on a par with grapes, mandarins, figs, bananas, so it is worth the speech made earlier. Papaya can be compared to orange as a nutritional value.
Are 100% fruit juices valid substitutes for normal fruit juices?
Can fruit juices be consumed instead of a portion of fruit? Fruit juices, even those produced with fresh fruit pulp and with no added sugar, have a different nutritional composition compared to fresh fruit, especially in terms of dietary fibers, which are found in negligible quantities. They are never valid substitutes unless the diabetic patient is in hypoglycemia.