It’s not often our team is perplexed by a question. Plenty of people ask us for advice in our daily lives because they know about our job. As we’ve been writing this blog since 2018, we can often send them a link to a post! For instance, a TikTok video about freezing carb-heavy foods to lower their carb count went viral. We were asked if it was true by a few people, and we said, “Well, sort of.” And sent them to our blog from last August on the subject.
Usually, when people ask us questions, even if we don’t know the answer, we understand where the question is coming from. We can understand the logic. But occasionally, we are left confused by a question and need to dig in to find an answer.
Earlier this week, we were asked if eating citrus fruit after meals is bad for people with blood sugar concerns. Our kneejerk reaction was to say no, that it was fine. But the strange specificity of the question gave us pause. They weren’t asking about fruit in general but citrus fruit in particular.
The question seems to have sprung from one article that others are quoting. The articles said that eating citrus fruit after a meal can lead to rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar. It doesn’t cite any research to back up that claim.
An older myth says you should always eat fruit on an empty stomach. The claim is that it slows digestion and will cause what’s in your stomach to stay there so long it ferments. That, in turn, will turn to discomfort. There is a small grain of truth in that. The fiber in fruit will slow stomach emptying, but only a small amount. People who ate pectin in a study emptied their stomachs after 82 minutes as opposed to the control group’s 70 minutes. The food didn’t sit long enough to ferment; it just helped people feel fuller longer.
Another myth says people with blood sugar concerns should eat fruit one to two hours before or after a meal. The claim is that it will help people with blood sugar concerns digest the fruit better. However, pairing fruit with protein, fat or high-fiber foods can help the intestines absorb less sugar from fruit. Fruit is one of the best sweet treats for people with blood sugar concerns because it contains so much fiber, but pairing it with other foods makes it even gentler on blood sugar.
Citrus fruit is high in fiber and has a low GI score. Citrus fruit can also help you absorb more nutrients from other foods, including iron. And it contains naringenin that can aid blood sugar.
We have spent hours examining the claim that you shouldn’t eat citrus fruit after a meal. As far as we can tell, there is no science behind it. Everyone’s body reacts differently to foods. Pay attention to how your blood sugar is impacted by citrus fruit. If it causes spikes, avoid it, but eating it after a meal shouldn’t make a difference.