- Data suggests eating blueberries daily for eight weeks may result in improved outcomes for diabetic patients, like improved A1C and triglyceride levels.
- These outcomes may be due to the anthocyanin content of the blueberries, suggesting this fruit can be a healthy part of a diabetes diet.
Eating a daily cup of blueberries may offer important health benefits to men with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published earlier this year.
The study showed improved levels of things like hemoglobin A1C, fructosamine, triglycerides, and liver enzymes (ALT and AST) over the course of eight weeks.
The April study, published in Current Developments In Nutrition, involved 52 men with type 2 diabetes. In the trial, half of the participants were given 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberries (equivalent to one cup of fresh blueberries) or 22 grams of a placebo powder. The study participants were asked to consume 11 grams of freeze-dried blueberries or placebo with each of their morning and evening meals along with their typical diet.
Dione Milauskas, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian specializing in prediabetes, tells Verywell this data highlights how adding foods to your diet can help you manage diabetes, rather than taking foods away.
“This is in stark contrast to the traditional approach to lowering A1C, which focuses on reducing carbohydrate intake,” Milauskas says. She was not involved in the study.
What This Means For You
If you have diabetes, you don’t need to avoid blueberries out of concern over their sugar content. In fact, including blueberries in your diet may offer health benefits and help manage your diabetes.
Should You Eat Blueberries If You Have Type 2 Diabetes?
In the U.S., about one in 10 people have type 2 diabetes, and 90% to 95% are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The internet is packed with tips for managing type 2 diabetes, many claiming all fruit should be avoided because of natural sugar content.
While it is true that fruit like blueberries contain natural sugar, they are also loaded with vitamins, phytonutrients, and fiber to help support overall health. Data suggests dietary interventions are both effective and low-cost ways to improve blood sugar levels, manage weight, and reduce cardiovascular risk factors for diabetic patients.
While limiting added sugars is a good idea, the American Diabetes Association does not recommend avoiding fruit. The organization says enjoying fruit is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth and get the extra nutrition you’re looking for—as long as the fruit does not contain added sugars and you monitor portion size.
Blueberries naturally contain anthocyanins, a phytochemical commonly found in red, purple, and blue plants and strongly associated with type 2 diabetes risk reduction. Hailey Crean, MS, RDN, CDCES, a registered dietitian specializing in diabetes care in Massachusetts, tells Verywell that anthocyanins might reduce the amount of glucose produced in the liver, which is especially important for people with diabetes.
However, Crean adds she wouldn’t recommend a person with diabetes consume blueberries every day based on this new study alone. She points out some limitations in the current study, “including that the study only included men and that the sample size was so small.”
Still, this is not the only study that suggests blueberries can benefit diabetes outcomes. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, obese participants were told to drink smoothies either with or without blueberries twice daily for six weeks. Those who consumed the blueberry-containing smoothie showed improved insulin sensitivity when compared those who did not consume blueberries.
How To Eat Healthy When Managing Type 2 Diabetes
While blueberries can be a healthy addition to a diabetes-friendly diet, Crean says they are not the only beneficial food for those trying to managing diabetes. Other dietary sources of anthocyanins (and fiber) include:
- Tart cherries
- Red cabbage
- Purple potatoes
“Adding one cup of fresh or frozen blueberries is something that many individuals with diabetes could realistically do, at least some of the time, and has little to no risk,” Crean says.
if you are a blueberry fan, add some fresh blueberries to your morning cereal or toss some frozen berries into your smoothie. Freeze-dried blueberries make for a satisfying snack, and dried blueberries dipped in chocolate can add some heart-healthy decadence to your day.