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Tropic like it’s hot! This tasty fruit makes you feel like you’re on vacay but without the hassle of sunscreen and airport security.
But is pineapple compatible with diabetes? Thankfully, yes — more or less! When eaten in moderation and paired with a protein, this spiny fruit won’t spike your blood sugar.
From the Atkins days to the keto craze, you probably know that managing diabetes means tracking carbs. Monitoring your carbohydrate intake can help you manage weight and keep your blood sugar in check.
How to manage your carb intake
The floor isn’t lava — it’s sugar! Step one towards a diabetes-friendly diet is to avoid highly processed sugary snacks at all costs. Natural sugars are okay in moderation, but eating excess sugar can cause a blood sugar spike and weight gain.
Step two in carb management, avoid foods that turn into sugar.
Take the potato, for example. This master of deception may not taste very sweet, but all that starch turns into glucose as its digested, which quickly raises your blood sugar. And you thought its party trick was transforming into chips or french fries!
What about fruit?
A proper serving of fruit for someone with diabetes contains no more than 15 grams of carbs. So really, you can eat any fruit, as long as you count your carbs. One cup of pineapple equals 15 grams of carbs. That’s the same as half cup of unsweetened pineapple juice.
Count your carbs and test your blood sugar regularly to know how much sugar is entering your bloodstream. Everyone has a different tolerance to how much sugar they can consume. To determine how many grams of fruit per day is best for you, consult with your doctor or a dietician.
Glycemic index and glycemic load
Along with carb counting, you can factor in the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) of the foods you eat. The Glycemic Index (GI) measures how quickly carbs in a specific food raise blood sugar. Glycemic load takes into account how quickly a food makes glucose enter the bloodstream and how much glucose per serving it can deliver.
Foods that have both a low GI and a low GL are best for controlling blood sugar levels.
Anything with a GL under 10 is great, and anything over 10 should be eaten in moderation or avoided.
Low GI foods (55 and below)
- These foods are digested and processed slowly, and don’t cause blood sugar spikes. For example, kidney beans have a low GI of 24.
Medium GI foods ( 56-69 GI)
- These foods are best consumed in moderation and in smaller portions since they can raise your blood sugar. Pineapple is considered a medium GI fruit with a 59 on the GI scale and a 6 on the GL scale.
High GI foods (70 and up)
- These foods raise blood sugar quickly. For example, cornflakes are high, coming in at 81 on the GI scale.
The ripe factor
Not all pineapple is equal. If the fruit is super ripe, the GI is higher because the ripening process increases natural sugars. Usually, a ripe pineapple won’t make a huge difference in how it affects your blood sugar as compared to a not-so-ripe one, but it’s something to consider.
Pineapple is a special occasion type of fruit because of its moderate effect on blood sugar. Consume it in smaller portions and in moderation.
What to avoid
Fresh pineapple is natural and by far the best way to enjoy the fruit.
Beware of processed pineapple — that means canned, dried, juiced, and often frozen. These forms strip the fruit of its natural nutrients and usually contain added sugars.
My what a fine-apple pineapple is. Say that ten times fast!
What’s in pineapple that makes it so great?
- Fiber. Keeps you full for longer and slows down the absorption of sugar, preventing blood sugar spikes.
- Vitamins A, B, and C. Powerful antioxidants thought to prevent chronic conditions like heart disease and some cancers.
- Manganese. An essential nutrient that promotes bone health and wound healing.
- Bromelain. a digestive enzyme unique to pineapple.
Unique to the pineapple is a digestive enzyme called Bromelain. No, that’s not a new cologne for bros, but rather an enzyme that may improve cardiovascular health, relieve osteoarthritis, and fight cancer.
More research is needed to bolster these findings.
While that pina colada will take your blood sugar to spike town, pairing fresh pineapple with a protein or healthy fat will yield best results.
For example, adding pineapple to Greek yogurt or preparing a pork loin with pineapple salsa will slow the sugar absorption, keeping blood sugar levels in check.
However you choose to pair your pineapple, remember to monitor your blood sugar before and after consuming it to see how it affects you.