Can People with Diabetes Eat Pineapple?

Carbohydrate Counts and Health Benefits of Pineapple

Picture of Pineapple
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Pineapple is a sweet fruit with some great health benefits. It is a myth that people with diabetes need to avoid fruit. Fruit is a healthy food choice - it contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber. People with diabetes can eat fruit, but they must watch how much they eat because all fruit contains carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the macronutrient that impacts blood sugars the most. Most people with diabetes should follow a consistent carbohydrate diet and are able to work fruit into their meal plan.

There are certain fruits that maybe better for people with diabetes than others - mostly because certain fruits can raise blood sugars more quickly than others.

Generally speaking, I recommend that people with diabetes should avoid pineapple mostly because when it ripens, the extra sweetness causes it to have a high glycemic index. That means that it raises blood sugar at a quicker pace than other fruits. In addition, oftentimes people have a difficult time limiting themselves to one serving (because it is small). This can result in overeating carbohydrates which can cause blood sugars to spike. However, if you love pineapple, aim to stick to one portion and consider pairing it with protein, such as low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt or chicken (if you are eating it with your meal). By pairing your pineapple with protein, you may be able to slow down the rise in blood sugars. If you add pineapple to your meal, consider eating your protein before your pineapple.

Interestingly, some studies suggest eating protein before carbohydrates can slow down the rise in blood sugars. Although pineapple is sweet, it does contain some health benefits. 

What are the Health Benefits of Pineapple?

Pineapple is a fat-free food that is rich in fiber and vitamin C. Some experts believe that higher intakes of vitamin C from diet or supplements may protect the heart and thus reduce the  risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease and stroke.

Therefore, ingesting foods with vitamin C might be beneficial for people with diabetes, because they are at increased risk of developing heart disease. Pineapple is also rich in fiber. Fiber is the indigestible part of carbohydrate can help to lower blood sugars, reduce cholesterol and regulate bowels.  

Pineapples contain a compound called bromelain. Studies have shown that bromelain may help to reduce inflammation and swelling. But, people most likely don't consume enough to get the medical benefit. 

How Many Carbohydrates are in Pineapple? 

The amount of carbohydrates in a serving of pineapple will depend on the size and the thickness. Aim to keep your slices thin. Try to avoid eating pineapple while cutting it as you will be unable to measure the amount of carbohydrates you are getting this way. If you decide to purchase canned pineapple, make sure to purchase pineapple in its own juices and avoid those that are in syrup. Avoid pineapple juice, because juice can spike blood sugars very quickly and excess intake of calories from sugary liquids can cause weight gain.

Aim to keep your serving of pineapple to 15 grams of carbohydrate (or one serving of carbohydrate). Pair your pineapple with some protein like Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese for a complete snack. You can also add pineapple to your carbohydrate allotment at meals. 

Calorie, Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Pineapple:

1 cup diced pineapple:

Calories - 78, Fiber - 2.2 grams, Carbohydrates - 20.3 grams

1 slice (3 1/2" diameter, 3/4" thick):

Calories - 42, Fiber - 1.2 grams, Carbohydrates - 11 grams

1 whole pineapple:

Calories - 236, fiber - 6.6 grams, Carbohydrates - 61.9 grams

Here is Some More Info on How to Eat Fruit: 

How to Incorporate Fruit into Your Meal Plan 

7 Fruits You are Better off Avoiding if you Have Type 2 Diabetes

Updated May 16, 2016 by Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDE 

Resources: 

Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin C. Accessed on-line. May 12, 2016:  http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C

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