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Philippine Fruits for Diabetics



Trinidad P. Trinidad (PhD Nutrition), Aida C. Mallillin,

Rosario S. Sagum (PhD Food Science and Tech), and Rosario R. Encabo


Background: Consumption of fruits is commonly restricted for diabetics because of the misconception that all carbohydrates, e.g. sugars, are easily metabolized to glucose. However, different types of carbohydrates are metabolized differently in the body. For example, dietary fiber (DF) and oligosaccharides, which are present in fruits, are slowly digested because of its fibrous/viscous structure and slowly release glucose in the blood, thereby maintaining the circulating blood glucose at normal levels.

Objective: To determine the glycemic response and glycemic index (GI – is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels) of some commonly consumed fruits in the Philippines.

Materials and Methods: Nine (9) commonly consumed fruits were used as test foods in the study such as:

pakwan (watermelon)                       melon (cantaloupe)

langka (jackfruit)                                 peras     (Chinese pears)

lakatan (banana)                                mangga,

kalabaw (mango ripe),                       papaya (papaya)                  mansanas (apple, Fuji)                     pinya (pineapple)

The Dietary Fiber contents of fruits studied were taken from the 1997 Philippine Food Composition Tables of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Department of Science and Technology. The Dietary Fiber contents of these fruits ranged from 0.5 – 3.4g/100g sample, with langka having the highest and pakwan, the lowest Dietary Fiber level. The fruits were fed to 10 healthy non-diabetic participants in weights ranging from 114 – 373g such that they contain 25g available carbohydrates, except for lakatan with 50g. Using the randomized cross-over design, the control (glucose solution) and test foods were fed in random order on separate occasions after an overnight fast. Blood samples were collected at 0 hour and every 15 minutes after feeding for one hour and every 30 minutes for the next hour, and read for glucose in a Clinical Chemistry Analyzer.

Results: Despite equal carbohydrates portions of the fruits tested, except for lakatan, they differed in their glycemic indices (GIs). The slow release of glucose was observed in all fruits. The peak of the glucose response from all fruits was observed at 30 – 45 minutes. The Glycemic Index of the fruits tested ranged from 29 – 62, classified to be from low to medium GI, as compared to the control of 100. Peras has the lowest GI of 29 ± 5 while lakatan, the highest Glycemic Index of 62 ± 11. Differences in the Glycemic Indexs of the fruits may not all be attributed to their Dietary Fiber content but to other forms of complex carbohydrates, such as oligosaccharides that may also be present in the fruits.

Conclusion and Recommendation: All fruits studied were considered to be low GI fruits (GI<55), except for lakatan and pinya (56 ± 10), which are regarded as medium GI fruits (GI<70). Therefore, the fruits studied should be included among the fruit choices in the meals of diabetics.