Watermelon is one of those fruits that millions of people love to eat. It is sweet, hydrating, filling, and ideal for hot sunny days. Kids love it, and so do adults. It is like a prayer answered for weight watchers, especially those who want to shed pounds but cannot contain their sweet cravings. But is watermelon good for diabetes? What should diabetic patients do if they enjoy this fruit but are scared lest their sugar levels increase? Let us find out in detail.
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Benefits of Watermelon
Watermelon has extremely high-water content making it an excellent fruit for the summer. With 92% water content, this fruit packs several nutrients yet has low-calorie density. Watermelon helps us to stay hydrated and satiates hunger for a long time. That makes it an excellent food option for weight watchers.
This fruit packs a punch for those who work out since it contains an amino acid called citrulline that improves athletic performance. Also, watermelon is an excellent source of antioxidants like vitamin C, carotenoids, lycopene, and cucurbitacin E, which help the body fight free radicals that lead to cell damage. But is watermelon good for diabetes?
What is Diabetes?
Before answering the question ‘is watermelon good for diabetes?’ it makes sense to understand what diabetes is. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.”
There are 3 types of diabetes – Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and Gestational Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes –
Type 1 diabetes occurs in children, teens, and young adults mostly. In this kind of diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin. That is because the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas. That is why type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease (where the body attacks itself by mistake). Patients with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin shots every day.
Type 2 diabetes –
Type 2 is a more common type of diabetes. In the case of type 2 diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin or cannot use it well. Generally seen in middle-aged or older people, type 2 diabetes can occur at any age, including during childhood.
Gestational diabetes –
Some women develop gestational diabetes when they are pregnant. This goes away post-childbirth. But such mothers are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Even the child is at risk of developing health issues such as obesity during childhood or in teens and type 2 diabetes later.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no cure for diabetes. But one can control it by taking medicines as prescribed, losing weight, having a proper diet, and staying active.
Is Watermelon Good For Diabetes – Dieticians Recommendation
Apart from regular checkups with the endocrinologist, a person with diabetes or prediabetes must also be in touch with a good dietician regularly. A dietician provides a balanced diet to the patient based on their blood test results and their lifestyle. The dietician recommends the number of macronutrients (such as protein, carbohydrates, and fats) and micronutrients (like potassium and sodium) the patient should eat.
The dietician will also recommend the portion size, timings of the meals, and tips to eat and live a healthier life without compromising on joie de vivre. Now that brings us to our topic of the day – is watermelon good for diabetes? Watermelon is a fruit with high GI. That leads to a lot of contrasting views on whether diabetic people should consume this fruit or not.
What is GI Scale?
GI scale is Glycemic Index Scale – a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. People, who like to watch what they eat, look at the GI of any food they wish to purchase for themselves. It helps them understand how quickly the food affects their blood sugar level when they consume it as is.
High GI food has carbs that the body quickly breaks down. This results in sharp spikes in the blood glucose level. Examples of some foods that have high GI levels are – sugar, sugary food, soft drinks, white bread, white rice, and potatoes. Even watermelon has high GI, so that leads us back to our question.
Is Watermelon Good for Diabetes?
Not all food or combination of foods, that have high GI need to be unhealthy. Moderation is the key over here. According to Medical News Today, watermelon is safe for diabetic patients, if they consume it in moderation. Watermelon has a glycemic index value of 80. So, a cup of watermelon with around 9.5g of sugar would not prove harmful.
However, diabetic patients should not consume just watermelon alone. Rather, one should balance it with other food with nutritious fats and proteins. The fats and proteins help in slowing down sugar absorption into the bloodstream. Particularly for patients with type 2 diabetes since they control their glucose level with the help of their food intake.
How to Consume Watermelon?
Now if you got the answer to – ‘is watermelon good for diabetes’, let us see some ways in which you can make watermelon part of your diet. Like said earlier, one has to combine watermelon (which is high in natural sugar) with healthy fats and proteins (such as nuts and seeds). But in this case, one size does not fit all – what we mean is that every individual has different nutrition requirements and lifestyles. So, a diabetic patient needs to talk to a dietician or a healthcare team for a customized diet chart before including this fruit in the eating pattern.
Is Watermelon Juice a Healthy Option?
While the fruit has gotten a green signal from doctors and healthcare providers, the same does not hold for watermelon juice. Due to an even higher GI level, people with diabetes are better off avoiding watermelon juice. They should instead include this fruit in different kinds of salads and eat a small portion as a part of a bigger meal. Also, it is imperative to remember that one should not pair it with something sugary or any other food with a high GI level. If not a big watermelon fan, you can simply replace it with other fruits with low GI, such as oranges, apples, kiwis, pears, grapefruits, peaches, and berries.
The Bottom Line
To answer the question – is watermelon good for diabetes – in a nutshell, it is ok to consume this fruit for any kind of diabetes. But there are three things one needs to take care of. One, a patient should maintain moderation while eating this delicious fruit and not get carried away. Two, a customized diet plan made by a diabetes dietician is a must before including this fruit in the eating pattern. A dietician or health care provider will factor in healthy fats and proteins depending on the individual’s dietary requirements. And three, a diabetic patient must not consume watermelon juice.
That said, a person with diabetes, who enjoys watermelon need not be crestfallen. Rather enjoy the yummy and nutritious fruit and get all its benefits while keeping the glucose level in mind.