Apples are a nutritious snack, and the fiber present in apples may help prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Apples also contain fructose, a natural sugar, which may be more beneficial for insulin levels than glucose.
Apples also contain many nutrients. A person with diabetes should be aware of how apples may affect them in order to include this fruit in a balanced diet.
This article looks at how consuming apples and other fruits might affect people with diabetes.
A 2019 meta-analysis of multiple studies including 339,383 participants found that apple consumption may significantly decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
However, people with diabetes must be mindful of their carbohydrate intake to make sure their blood sugar levels stay stable throughout the day.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are about 25 grams (g) of carbs in total in a medium apple, and around 19 g of those come from sugar.
Apples also contain around 4 g of dietary fiber. Fiber may have beneficial effects on glucose metabolism, which could help prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
However, most of the sugar in an apple is in the form of naturally occurring fructose, which may have a different effect on the body than other sugars. Fructose is different from the refined and processed sugars present in packaged foods such as chocolate and cookies.
A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2017 found that replacing glucose or sucrose with fructose in foods or beverages led to lower peak postmeal blood sugar and insulin levels.
In addition, pairing fruits with healthy fat or protein may lower the spike in blood sugar and make a person feel full longer.
A person may want to consider working with a registered dietitian or a diabetes educator to discuss their individual nutrient needs.
The glycemic index (GI) compares foods according to their likelihood of causing blood sugar spikes. Foods receive GI scores ranging from 0 to 100. Water has the lowest score, and glucose has the highest.
The body absorbs carbohydrates and sugars quickly from foods with a high GI score, such as candies. The carbs from foods with a low GI score enter the bloodstream more slowly, so there is a lower risk of a blood sugar spike.
Cornflakes, for example, score around 93 on the GI, depending on the brand and type. This is a high score. Apples score around 39. This is a relatively low score compared to that of cornflakes.
Altogether, apples may have a relatively low impact on the insulin and blood sugar levels in the body.
In the past, some doctors advised people to count their carbs as a way of managing blood sugar levels. However, current guidelines for diabetes management focus on individual needs and no longer recommend any specific carb intake.
It is still essential for someone to monitor any changes they experience after eating an apple so that they know what to expect in their body. A person with diabetes needs to check their blood sugar level regularly.
A doctor will advise a person on how often to check their blood sugar and what levels they should aim for, as it will depend on the individual.
Blood glucose monitors are available for purchase online.
Some nutrition guidelines suggest that people with diabetes consume 8–10 servings of different fruits and vegetables per day. A serving of fruit is equivalent to one small apple, so a person with diabetes may consider incorporating this amount per day into their diet.
A person should consider spreading fruit intake throughout the day to keep their blood sugar level stable.
Although red apples taste sweeter, green apples contain less sugar, more fiber, and more antioxidants.
They also lower blood sugar levels, which is crucial for people living with diabetes. When it comes to GI rating, apples generally score about 39.
The table below shows some different types of apples alongside their sugar and carb content. Granny Smith apples tend to have the least sugar.
However, fruits such as apples also contain healthy amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A person can eat any type of apple as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Many people love apples for their simplicity, but they are also very nutritious.
The table below shows the nutritional content of one medium apple, weighing around 182 g, according to the USDA.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 recommend that adults consume 28–34 g of fiber per day, depending on age and sex. A person can feel full after eating an apple because of the combination of fiber, water, and nutrients.
Vitamins C is an antioxidant, a compound that may help reduce inflammation. It also contributes to the healthy functioning of the immune system.
Specific flavonoids, such as quercetin, are present in apples. These may help improve blood glucose levels. A 2017 review found an association between eating apples and pears and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
All these factors make apples a good choice as a quick snack between meals.
Eating a varied diet rich in vegetables and fruit — including apples — is good for everyone, including people living with diabetes.
Learn more about diabetes, nutrition, and diet.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits is beneficial for everyone, and certain fruits provide more benefits than others, particularly for a person with a chronic health condition.
Eating fruits in their whole, raw form provides the most benefits since they contain fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
Berries have lower levels of carbohydrates than some other fruits. They are naturally high in antioxidants, flavonoids, and nutrients, which help boost the body’s immune system and overall health.
Like apples, cherries contain a natural compound called quercetin, which may stimulate insulin secretion. This may improve symptoms and reduce complications in those with type 2 diabetes.
Rich-colored berries such as the following may make healthy choices:
It is possible to buy berries fresh or frozen. Dried versions may be less filling but are also a healthy option. However, anyone with diabetes should check the labels for added sugar, as this is not always obvious.
A person with diabetes can eat any fruit in moderation, as long as they do not have an allergy.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) encourages the consumption of fruits. A person with diabetes may consider adding other fruits besides apples to their diet, such as:
Most fruits have a low GI score, according to the ADA, but the following have a medium score:
A person should monitor how different fruits affect their symptoms and blood sugar, as each person’s sensitivities may be different.
Learn more about diabetes and other fruits.
According to nutritional guidelines from 2019, people with diabetes may consider avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages, such as fruit juices, to better manage their blood sugar levels.
However, an individual may be able to drink fruit juice depending on how their blood glucose levels react.
Four ounces of fruit juice contain about 15 g of carbohydrates. Being mindful of total carbohydrate intake during meals is important for managing diabetes. A person should include fruit juice in their carbohydrate tracking.
Learn which drinks are good and bad for people with diabetes.
Apples are a highly nutritious food choice and can be a satisfying and healthy snack.
Regular monitoring of blood sugar and insulin levels after eating apples can help let a person know how apples will affect them. People should always eat a variety of fresh, healthy foods.
People may wish to opt for fresh apples rather than apple-derived products, as fresh apples contain more nutrients and fiber and do not have added sugar.
Last medically reviewed on September 10, 2022
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Sep 16, 2022
Jon Johnson, Margaret Etudo
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Sep 11, 2022
Medically Reviewed By
Kimberley Rose-Francis RDN, CDCES, CNSC, LD
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