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Diabetics: Handling Fruit? Wash Hands Before Pricking Finger

February 12, 2011

A recent study in the journal Diabetes Care suggests those who eat fruit shortly before getting their blood glucose checked should wash their hands with tap water. Even alcohol swabs don’t properly cleanse the hands of the sugars left by peeling or contacting fruit before taking the glucose test, which many manufactures suggest diabetics do before checking their sugar.

The research, conducted by Dr. Takahisa Hirose and colleagues took 10 volunteers, none of which had diabetes, and measured their blood sugar levels under several conditions. First baseline glucose levels were measured with most readings around 90 mg/dL. Then volunteers peeled kiwis, grapes, and oranges and tested their blood sugar levels immediately, after wiping their hands with alcohol and washing with tap water.

Results showed that when fruit peeling was followed by hand washing, blood glucose readings were the same as baseline, suggesting that hand washing rinsed the sugar residue left from the fruit away. When the participants checked their blood sugar soon after peeling the fruit without swabbing or rinsing, however, blood glucose readings were much higher, usually around 170 mg/dL. Readings were also high even after using alcohol swabs.

It is imperative for diabetics to receive accurate blood sugar readings. Inaccurate readings can lead to someone taking insulin or medication when they really might not need it which in turn could lead to hypoglycemia. This study shows just how far readings can be thrown off by food, specifically fruit. In order to get the most accurate result be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with tap water prior to getting a reading.


Hirose, Takahisa , Tomoyo Mita, Yoshio Fujitani, Ryuzo Kawamori, and Hirotaka Watada. “Glucose Monitoring After Fruit Peeling: Pseudohyperglycemia When Neglecting Hand Washing Before Fingertip Blood Sampling.” Diabetes Care 34.2 (2011): n. pag. Diabetes Care. Web. 12 Feb. 2011.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessica Butcher, RD permalink
    February 16, 2011 6:49 PM

    What an interesting concept. I had not thought of that, though seems obvious now. Thanks for the tip 🙂

    • February 17, 2011 11:16 AM

      You’re very welcome Jessica. Thank you for your comment. It really is interesting and surprising to think something as simple as washing your hands could potentially lead to better blood glucose control.

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