Fruits that wear a halo

Last month we showcased the three top fruits with ‘bad’ reputations, and why they shouldn’t be ruled out. This month, we’ll illuminate ‘free fruits’ which wear a diabetes-friendly halo.

‘Free fruit’ is the term we use to describe varieties which do not contain enough carbohydrate to be counted as an exchange.

Rich in Vitamin C and dietary fibre, these fruit can be eaten as desired without significantly increasing your blood glucose levels, and thus earning them a ‘halo’. They include: lemon, lime, passionfruit and rhubarb.

Lemon and lime earn an extra diabetes-friendly halo because research has found squeezing them over your meal lowers the glycaemic index.  Their acidity is attributed to slowing down the digestion of the meal and rate of gastric emptying.

Some varieties of fruit also wear a ‘free fruit’ halo when eaten in smaller portion sizes. These include strawberries (1 cup or less), raspberries (1/2 cup or less) mandarins (2 small or less) and fresh fig (2 or less).

For a quick and easy filling snack that won’t impact your blood glucose levels, enjoy two fresh figs with a matchbox sized piece of low-fat tasty cheese and a handful of walnuts.

Most importantly, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend we enjoy only two serves of fruit per day. This is because eating more can contribute to excess kilojoules in our diet, even if the variety is lower in carbohydrate.

See our table below to learn the best time of year to enjoy these heroes, some recipe suggestions and how many you can enjoy for a measly 72 calories.

Free Fruit When in season? Recipe Suggestions How many = 300kJ (72 cals)


Lemon Winter & Spring Dressings, marinades & garnish 4 lemons


Lime Spring & Summer Asian and Central American cooking 6 limes


Passionfruit Spring & Summer Drizzle pulp on yoghurt or in fruit salad 10 Passionfruit


Rhubarb Year round Stewed fruit; desserts; muffins ½ Cup stewed rhubarb


Strawberries Spring



Fresh; fruit salad; platters 22 strawberries*

(3 cups)

*Count as 1 ½ carb exchanges

Mandarins Winter & Spring Fresh; in salads 2 small mandarins


Raspberries Summer Fresh; with yoghurt; frozen in smoothies and muffins 1+ 2/3 cups raspberries*

*Count as 1 carb exchange

Fresh fig Autumn Poached, grilled, in salad, cheese platter 2 figs



Remember that all dietary suggestions are general in nature and may not be specific to your individual needs. For individualised advice speak to an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Lemons in a bowl and cut up on counter