We know the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but are apples good for diabetics? It’s quite a paradox: fruit is good for you (reduces risk of heart disease, obesity, and cancer), but fruit has sugar (sugar raises blood sugar levels, makes insulin surge, and can lead to obesity). It gets even more confusing if you’re talking about diabetics.
People with type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar due to an inability to use insulin properly or a lack of adequate insulin. Eating foods high in sugar can make their blood sugar high, often requiring medication to control their blood sugar and prevent medical complications.
So, could an apple be good for diabetics? Let’s take a closer look.
According to the American Diabetes Association, apples are good for people with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes (t2dm). Despite their sugar and carbohydrate content (about 25 grams of carbohydrates with 19 g being sugar in a medium sized apple), apples eaten in moderation should not be a problem for diabetics.
There are two known reasons for this sugary contradiction. First, whole apples have a decent amount of fiber (4 grams in a medium apple). This fiber helps to slow digestion and absorption of sugars in the intestine. By slowing down the absorption of sugars, not all of the sugar hits the bloodstream at the same time, preventing spikes in both blood sugar and insulin levels.
Second, the sugar found in apples is in the form of fructose, which is different from glucose which is often found in candy, desserts, and also hidden in many packaged foods. According to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, replacing glucose and sucrose with fructose (like that found in fruit) led to less sugar and insulin in the bloodstream after a meal.
In light of the fiber and type of sugar in apples, apples are in fact good for diabetics to eat in moderation. Does that change if the diabetic has had gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band surgery? Kind of.
Apples (and fruit) should be included in a post bariatric surgery diet, but with some caveats. First, fruit should only be added into the diet when it is safe to do so and in the consistency that is appropriate. Second, it should fit into the post op diet in the proper priority. Protein should come as the first priority, then vegetables, and then fruits. And third, fruit juice does not count as fruit. Eating the fruit (preferably fresh) should be encouraged.
For those with diabetes, and those who have had gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band surgery, combining fruit with protein can be a good choice. Combinations like ham and cheese wrapped apple slices, diced apples in plain yogurt with a dash of cinnamon, or apple slices with a nut butter can be good additions to a bariatric diet when eaten during the correct stage after your bariatric surgery.
The above is offered by Dr. Shillingford, MD, PA, a board certified surgeon with over 4,000 surgical procedures performed. His surgical practice focuses on bariatric weight loss surgeries including gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, lap band, and revisional surgeries. His weight loss surgery patients frequently come from Miami, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, and as far away as Jacksonville for Dr. Shillingford’s well respected reputation as a leader in his surgical field and as a compassionate surgeon.
To learn more about diabetes and how it is affected by obesity, check out our page http://www.obesityanddiabetes.com/obesity-and-diabetes.html.