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Do Apples Affect Diabetes and Blood Sugar Levels?

Blood Glucose Meter and Red ApplesApples are
delicious, nutritious and convenient to eat.

Studies have shown that they have several health

Yet apples also contain carbs, which impact blood sugar levels.

However, the carbs found in apples affect your body differently
than the sugars found in junk foods.

This article explains how apples affect blood sugar levels and
how to incorporate them into your diet if you have diabetes.

Apples Are Nutritious and Filling

Apples are
one of the most popular fruits in the world.

They’re also highly nutritious. In fact, apples are high in
vitamin C, fiber and several antioxidants.

One medium apple contains 95 calories, 25 grams of carbs and
14% of the daily value for vitamin C (1).

Interestingly, a large part of an apple’s nutrients is found in
its colorful skin (2).

Furthermore, apples contain large amounts of
and fiber, which make them surprisingly filling.
You’re likely to be satisfied after eating just one (3).

Bottom Line: Apples are a good source of
fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. They also help you feel
full without consuming a lot of calories.

Apples Contain Carbs, as Well as Fiber

If you have diabetes, keeping tabs on your carbohydrate intake
is important.

That’s because of the three macronutrients — carbs, fat and
protein — carbs affect your blood sugar levels the most.

That being said, not all
carbs are created equal
. A medium apple contains 25 grams
of carbs, but 4.4 of those are fiber (1).

slows down the digestion and absorption of carbs, causing them
to not spike your blood sugar levels nearly as quickly

Studies show that fiber is protective against type 2 diabetes,
and that many types of fiber can improve blood sugar control
(5, 6).

Bottom Line: Apples contain carbs, which can
raise blood sugar levels. However, the fiber in apples helps
stabilize blood sugar levels, in addition to providing other
health benefits.

Apples Only Moderately Affect Blood Sugar Levels

Whole Green Apple and a Slice of Apple

Apples do contain sugar, but much of the sugar found in apples
is fructose.

When fructose is consumed in a whole fruit, it has very little
effect on blood sugar levels (7).

Also, the fiber in apples slows down the digestion and
absorption of sugar. This means sugar enters the bloodstream
slowly and doesn’t rapidly raise blood sugar levels (4).

Moreover, polyphenols, which are plant compounds
found in apples, also slow down the digestion of carbs and
lower blood sugar levels (8).

The glycemic index (GI) and the glycemic load (GL) are useful
tools to measure how much a food affects blood sugar levels

Apples score relatively low on both the GI and GL scales,
meaning that they cause a minimal rise in blood sugar levels
(10, 11).

One study of 12 obese women found that blood sugar levels were
over 50% lower after consuming a meal with a low GL, compared
to a meal with a high GL (12).

Bottom Line: Apples have a minimal effect on
blood sugar levels and are unlikely to cause rapid spikes in
blood sugar, even in diabetics.

Apples May Reduce Insulin Resistance

Apple with a Heart on a Turquoise Table

There are two types of diabetes — type 1 and type 2.

If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas does not produce
enough insulin, the hormone that transports sugar from your
blood to your cells.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your body produces insulin but
your cells are resistant to it. This is called
insulin resistance

Eating apples on a regular basis might reduce insulin
resistance, which should lead to lower
blood sugar levels
(8, 14).

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This is because the polyphenols in apples, which are found
primarily in apple skin, stimulate your pancreas to release
insulin and help your cells take in sugar (2, 8).

Bottom Line: Apples contain plant compounds
that may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin

The Antioxidants Found in Apples May Lower Your Risk of

Yellow, Green and Red Apples

Several studies have found that eating apples is linked to a
lower risk of diabetes (2, 15).

One study found that women who ate an apple per day had a 28%
lower risk of type 2 diabetes than women who didn’t eat any
apples (16).

There are multiple reasons apples might help prevent diabetes,
but the antioxidants found in apples likely play a significant

are substances that prevent some harmful chemical reactions in
your body. They have numerous health benefits, including
protecting your body from chronic disease.

Significant amounts of the following antioxidants are found in

  • Quercetin: Slows down carb digestion,
    helping prevent blood sugar spikes (17).
  • Chlorogenic acid: Helps your body use sugar
    more efficiently (18, 19).
  • Phlorizin: Slows down sugar absorption and
    lowers blood sugar levels (20, 21).

The highest concentrations of beneficial antioxidants are found
in Honeycrisp and Red Delicious apples (22).

Bottom Line: Eating apples on a regular
basis may help prevent type 2 diabetes, as well as keep your
blood sugar levels stable.

Should Diabetics Eat Apples?

Apples are an excellent fruit to include in your diet if you
have diabetes.

Most dietary guidelines for diabetics recommend a diet that
includes fruits and vegetables (23).

and vegetables are full of nutrients such as
vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

In addition, diets high in fruits and vegetables have
repeatedly been linked to lower risks of chronic disease, such
as heart disease and cancer (24, 25, 26).

In fact, a review of nine studies found that each serving of
fruit that was consumed daily led to a 7% lower risk of heart
disease (27).

While apples are unlikely to cause spikes in your blood sugar
levels, they do contain carbs. If you’re
counting carbs
, be sure to account for the 25 grams of
carbs an apple contains.

Also, be sure to monitor your blood sugar after eating apples
and see how they affect you personally.

Bottom Line: Apples are highly nutritious
and have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels. They are
safe and healthy for diabetics to enjoy on a regular basis.

How to Include Apples in Your Diet

Sliced Red Apple

Apples are a delicious and healthy food to add to your diet,
regardless of whether you have diabetes or not.

Here are some tips for diabetics to include apples in their
meal plans:

  • Eat it whole: To reap all of the health
    benefits, eat the apple whole. A large part of the nutrients
    is in the skin (2).
  • Avoid apple juice: The juice does not have
    the same benefits as the whole fruit, since it’s higher in
    sugar and missing the fiber (28, 29).
  • Limit your portion: Stick with one medium
    apple since larger portions will increase the glycemic load
  • Spread out your fruit intake: Spread your
    daily fruit intake throughout the day to keep your blood
    sugar levels stable.

Take Home Message

Apples do contain carbs, but they have a minimal effect on
blood sugar levels when eaten as a whole fruit.

They are highly nutritious and a great choice for a healthy

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