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Can People with Diabetes Eat Watermelon?

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Can People With Diabetes Eat Watermelon?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Watermelon can be a healthy choice for people with diabetes if eaten in moderation with attention to the portion size.
  • When eating watermelon for a snack, pair it with a protein or fat source to minimize blood sugar spikes. 
  • Watermelon is rich in beneficial micronutrients, like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, lycopene, and L-citrulline.

Watermelon is a nutritious and refreshing fruit option for people with diabetes when eaten in moderation. Although it contains natural sugars, watermelon has a low glycemic load, meaning it should not significantly raise your blood glucose levels. 

Eating fresh watermelon and balancing it with other food groups can help slow down digestion and absorption of glucose into your bloodstream.

Read more to learn about the health benefits of watermelon and how to eat it without spiking your blood glucose levels. 

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Is Watermelon Good for Diabetes?

Some people may question if watermelon is good for diabetes because of its natural sugar content.

Dietary sugars, the simplest form of carbohydrates, can raise blood glucose levels (sometimes called blood sugar levels).

However, according to the American Diabetes Association, fruit in its whole, unprocessed form can fit into a diabetes-friendly diet when eaten in moderation. 

Portion sizes should be monitored when it comes to diabetes management.

It's not recommended to eat large portions of watermelon because eating too much can spike your blood sugar levels.

According to the American Dietetic Association food exchange list, a serving of cubed watermelon is one cup.

Research shows that pairing foods that contain fat and protein with carbohydrate-based snacks has a more favorable impact on blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugars into your bloodstream.

When eating watermelon as a snack, you can include nuts or cheese to provide the protein and fat content.

Or, you can eat watermelon as part of a balanced meal that includes all the food groups.  

Consider booking an online appointment with a registered dietitian through Nourish for guidance on how to include fruit in your diet while managing your blood sugars. 

Watermelon and Blood Sugar

Research on the impact of watermelon on blood sugar levels in diabetes is limited. 

The glycemic index (GI) can be a helpful tool for determining how quickly a carbohydrate-rich food might increase blood sugar levels.

A numerical value is assigned to each food, with low-GI foods being less than 55 and high-GI foods being greater than 70.

Watermelon has a high glycemic index of 80, meaning it can raise your blood sugar quickly. 

However, this is not the full picture. Glycemic load is another value that considers both the glycemic index and the number of carbohydrates the food provides.

It's thought to be a more accurate measure of how much your blood sugar could increase after eating the food.

Watermelon has a low glycemic load of five (less than ten is considered low). 

Is Watermelon High in Sugar?

One serving of watermelon, equivalent to one cup cubed, has 11.5 grams of total carbohydrates. Around nine grams of those carbohydrates come from natural sugar. 

While this doesn’t mean you need to avoid watermelon, it does mean that portion sizes of the fruit are important for blood sugar management. 

Everyone’s body responds to carbohydrates differently. The best way to learn how watermelon impacts your blood sugar levels is to test your blood sugar with a glucometer after eating watermelon.

Remember, pairing watermelon with food containing fat and protein will help minimize any blood sugar spikes. 

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on finding the best balance of foods to manage your blood sugar levels, consider trying Nourish. You’ll be matched with a virtual registered dietitian specializing in diabetes. 

Benefits of Watermelon

Watermelon has many nutritional benefits. It is primarily made up of carbohydrates along with some fiber and micronutrients, like vitamin C and potassium.

Watermelon also contains health-promoting plant compounds, including L-citrulline and lycopene

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Vitamin A

A one-cup serving of watermelon cubes provides 43 micrograms of vitamin A. Healthy adults need between 700 and 900 micrograms of vitamin A per day. 

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is absorbed by dietary fats and transported through the body. Vitamin A has many functions, including cell growth, immune health, and vision.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is important for immune health. It also helps with the absorption of iron from plant sources.

One cup of cubed watermelon has 12 milligrams of vitamin C, which is around 15% of the daily vitamin C needs of adults. 

Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral that most Americans lack from their diets. Healthy adults need between 2,600 and 3,400 milligrams of potassium per day. One cup of watermelon cubes has 170 mg of potassium

A diet rich in potassium and low in sodium is known to help lower high blood pressure.

Watermelon contains minimal sodium, making it a great choice for people with blood pressure concerns. 

Amino Acid

Watermelon is also rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid known for its positive impact on heart health. There is evidence that L-citrulline can help lower blood pressure in humans. Animal studies also show the benefit of L-citrulline on cholesterol, inflammation, and blood sugar levels, though more research is needed in these areas. 

Lycopene

Watermelon is rich in lycopene, an antioxidant found in red, orange, and pink fruits and vegetables.

In addition to its antioxidant properties, preliminary research from 2014 shows lycopene may be beneficial for preventing diabetes, cancer, and high cholesterol. 

Watermelons with red flesh have higher amounts of lycopene than those with yellow or orange flesh.

The lycopene in watermelon has high bioavailability, meaning it’s easier for your body to extract it from the raw fruit. 

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Other Fruits to Consider with Diabetes

Fruits with a lower glycemic index than watermelon should be considered when planning your diet for diabetes management. 

Berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, are all high in fiber. Fiber aids with satiety, and helps slow down digestion which can help stabilize blood sugar levels. 

Berries have a glycemic index ranging from 28-40, which is considered low.

This means berries shouldn’t raise your blood sugar quickly.

One cup of berries equals one serving or carbohydrate choice per the diabetic exchange list, which contains approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates.  

In addition to berries, other low-GI fruits that are healthy for people with diabetes include: 

Though it can be helpful to focus on low-GI fruits for blood sugar management, all fruits can fit in a balanced diet when eaten in moderation.

Takeaway 

Watermelon has numerous health benefits because it contains vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. Watermelon can be safely included in your diet if you are mindful of portion sizes.

Pairing watermelon with a protein or a fat source can help prevent blood sugar spikes. 

Talk to a Registered Dietitian 

If you are looking for personalized nutrition recommendations for diabetes, consider booking an appointment through Nourish.

You can connect with expert diabetes dietitian and learn how to manage your blood sugar from the comfort of your home. 

Nourish accepts most insurance plans, with most patients paying $0 out of pocket.

Find a dietitian near you to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

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While you don’t seem to be at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes based on this quiz, please contact your healthcare provider with any concerns. If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

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