I typically recommend limiting to four ounces of fruit juice at a time, if you like to drink it, says Kelly O’Connor, RD, LDN, CDE, Director of Diabetes Education at The Diabetes Center at Baltimore-based Mercy Medical Center, or eating fresh fruit instead of drinking juice. Fresh fruit provides much greater nutritional value, and a significant amount of fiber, which juice does not. Fiber has multiple health benefits and is also known to benefit people with diabetes.

A typical recommendation, as part of a diabetes meal plan, is to consume between 45 and 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal. Fruit juice, while it can provide some nutrients, can also have added sugar. One half-cup of fruit juice, which contains four ounces, even labeled “all natural” or  “no sugar added”  is still a significant source of carbohydrates. Indeed, a four-ounce glass of juice provides about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Get struck by mega-thirst and chug a 16 ounce bottle of juice? Well, you’ve just spent all your carbs for that particular meal–before any solid foods ever entered your mouth. That said, any beverage labeled “fruit  drink,” you absolutely want to avoid. Those are mostly pure sugar, containing 10 percent or less of real fruit juice.

What’s more, there’s new research showing that fresh fruit is the smarter option of the two. Before there was a lack of research showing us a definitive answer as to whether people with diabetes should or should not consume fresh fruit and fruit juice. At least we know that fresh fruit is largely safe, according to new surprising study findings published in the Nutrition Journal.

Cutting back on fruit did not benefit people with diabetes, found the researchers. In this first randomized trial, among 63 adults with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes, some were randomly told to limit fruit intake while others were told to eat at least two pieces of fresh fruit daily. Levels of glycosylated hemoglobin, which suggests blood-sugar levels over time, were then monitored.

After 12 weeks, researchers saw that there was no significant difference in blood-sugar levels between the fruit-limiting group, which ate about 135 g of fruit daily (for example, from one banana or one orange), and the two-a-day group, which consumed about 320 g of fruit daily. Those who ate more fruit actually saw a weight-loss benefit, dropping more pounds than the group that ate less fruit. The authors concluded that people living with diabetes should not limit their intake of fresh fruit.

Have You heard conflicting advice about eating fruit and drinking fruit juice with diabetes?