The juicy red apple from the hills is tempting on the shop shelf but this is one fruit you can safely sink your teeth into even if you are a diabetic. Eating apples on a regular basis has the potential to reduce insulin resistance, which should lead to lower blood sugar levels. “This is because the polyphenols in apples, which are found primarily in apple skin, stimulate your pancreas to release insulin and help your cells absorb sugar,” says Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals.
And if you are one of those who believes in micro-portioning their diet according to the nutrient quotient, then simply go for green apples. “Although red apples taste sweeter, green apples contain less sugar, more fibre and more antioxidants. They also lower blood sugar levels,” says she. The glycaemic index of apples is around 39, even lower than that of cornflakes.
IS SUGAR IN APPLES WORRISOME FOR THE DIABETIC?
Apples are full of several health benefits. Yet, the carbs in the fruit can have an effect on your blood sugar levels. However, the good news is the carbs found in apples affect your body differently than the sugars found in foods containing refined and processed sugars. And if you have diabetes, keeping a tab on your carbohydrate intake is important. “That being said, all carbs are not created equal. A medium apple has 27 grams of carbs, but 4.8 grams of those are fibres, which work to slow down the digestion and absorption of carbs which in turn do not cause your blood sugar levels to spike as quickly. Sugar enters the bloodstream slowly. Furthermore, much of the sugar found in apples is fructose which has little effect on blood sugar levels when consumed as a whole fruit,” says Dr Swatee Sandhan, Senior Dietitian, Jupiter Hospital, Pune
Apples improve insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that plays a vital role in transporting sugar from your blood to your cells. In people with diabetes, either the hormone is not produced at all (type 1) or is not produced in enough amounts to meet your daily needs (type 2) in addition to cellular resistance produced to the insulin. “Regular intake of apples has the potential to reduce insulin resistance, which should lead to lower blood sugar levels,” she adds. Specific flavonoids, such as quercetin, present in apples help improve blood glucose levels by slowing down carb digestion. Chlorogenic acid may help your body use sugar more efficiently while Phlorizin may slow down sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
WHAT DO STUDIES SAY?
A 2019 meta-analysis of multiple studies, including 339,383 participants, found that apple consumption may significantly decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes. 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 post-meal blood sugar peaks and insulin levels. In addition, pairing fruits with a healthy fat or protein may lower the spike in blood sugar.
Some guidelines by the US-based National Library of Medicine suggest that people with diabetes consume eight to ten servings of different fruits and vegetables per day. A serving of fruit is equivalent to one small apple.
Also, a diabetic person should consider spreading fruit intake throughout the day to keep their blood sugar level stable.
WHY APPLE IS A SUPERFOOD
Apple is rich in pectin fibre and helps improve metabolism. The fibres along with the fruit’s water content promote a feeling of fullness and satiety which ultimately help you manage weight by avoiding snacking in between. The apple boosts the immune system as well as brain health due to the presence of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Vitamin C reduces inflammation. According to Ayurveda, an apple has a rechana (laxative) nature and should be taken in the morning, it aids in proper digestion. Applying a paste of apple pulp and honey helps reduce acne and pimples due to its anti-inflammatory property,” says Dr Rohatgi. “For maximum benefits, eat the fruit as whole with skin. Do not eat fruits with meals but as mid-meal snacks be it mid-morning or mid-evening,” she adds.