Sugar Content in Fruit: Is it Damaging to Your Health and Waistline?
Think nature’s candy provides less sugar than a sweet treat? You may be wrong. Yes, it’s good for you, but the sugar content in fruit can be deceivingly high, depending which types you pick. We’ll help you choose low sugar fruits wisely.
You’ve cut out the good stuff (e.g., sweets and ice cream), but your weight’s staying constant. The culprit could be something you always thought was healthy: fruit. The sugar content in fruit varies depending on the type you choose and how it’s processed. Drying, for instance, ups the sugar content in fruit to extreme levels while eating it raw will help you cut back on unnecessary calories and sugar.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not telling you to avoid fruit. That would be crazy! Fruit is packed with healthy nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants. It’s chock-full of fiber, contains a lot of water and helps keep you satiated. The benefits of fruit far outweigh the downsides. That said, if you have diabetes or prediabetes or are on a mission to lose weight, you need to be careful about fruits you consume and aim for low sugar fruits.
Which Fruits Are High in Sugar?
Anything dried boasts the highest sugar content in fruit, especially cranberries, raisins, dates, and figs, says Laura Hartung, MA, RD, LDN, CPT.
See our chart of sugar content in fruit
Compare the dried version to a raw fruit and you’ll be amazed by the difference in sugar content. Dried pears, for instance, contain a whopping 112 g of sugar in one cup. The same amount of raw Bartlett pears contains a fraction of that—14g. One cup of packed golden raisins has 108 g of sugar, while the same amount of red or green grapes contain 23 g of sugar.
“Diabetics need to count their carbohydrate content at each meal and know the amount of sugar and carbs in the fruits they consume,” says Laura Hartung, MA, RD, LDN, CPT. “Women diabetics need to limit their carbohydrate intake to 30 to 45g of carbs per meal. Male diabetics need to limit their carb intake to 45 to 60 g of carbs per meal.” One cup of mashed banana contains 51 g of carbs, for instance, while a cup of red or green grapes has 27 g.
“Tropical fruits [like] pineapple, bananas, and pomegranates also contain higher amounts of sugar,” Hartung says. One cup of pineapple, for instance, contains 16 g of sugar while the same amount of banana contains almost 28g. Other foods that top the highest-sugar-conten-in-fruit list: cherries (18 g/cup), grapes (23 g/cup), mangoes (23 g/cup), lychees (29 g/cup) and passion fruit (26 g/cup).
Which Fruits Have the Least Sugar?
These low sugar fruits are tasty options that offer the benefits of eating fruit without the hefty sugar content.
- Avocados. One cup of pureed California avocados boasts a mere 0.69 g of sugar.
- Limes. One fruit has just over a gram of sugar.
- Berries. Raspberries (5 g/cup), blackberries (7 g/cup), and strawberries (7 g/cup) are low sugar fruits. Another bonus: They’re “loaded with antioxidants—cancer-fighting plant chemicals,” says Hartung.
- Plantains. One cup of fried plantains contain 4 g of sugar. If you boil them, it drops to 3g.
- Clementines. One fruit has 7 g of sugar.
- Lemons. One cup has just 5 g.
- Pears. One small Asian pear has 9 g of sugar.
- Watermelon. One cup of watermelon balls has 10 g of sugar.
- Apples. One cup of Granny Smith apples contains just over 10g of sugar.
Which Fruits Are Not Good for Diabetics?
Dried fruits are probably the worst type for diabetics. The reason? The sugar content in fruits like these is concentrated. Consuming even a small amount could put a diabetic way over on his or her carbohydrate and sugar goals. “People with diabetes need to eat a heart-healthy, carbohydrate-controlled meal plan,” Hartung says. “Fruits are a part of that heart healthy eating because they are full of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.” When choosing a fruit, diabetics should opt for those with low to moderate amounts of sugar.
Are Sugars in Fruits Bad for You?
No, says Hartung. “Most fruits have a low glycemic index due to the amount of fiber they contain, and their sugar is mostly fructose.” That means they’re less likely to wreak havoc on your blood sugar than, say, a bag of gummy worms. Most fruit is also filled with fiber, which helps you to feel fuller for longer—it could help prevent you from overeating.
Another bonus: Fruits are filled with disease-fighting antioxidants, water, vitamins, and nutrients, “which make them a much healthier choice than any candy bar, cookie, or processed snack,” Hartung adds. As with everything, though, fruit should be enjoyed in moderation.
Sugar Content in Fruit: Chart Summary
Below are some of the most common fruits and their associated sugar contents. Notice how the type of fruit and the way in which it is processed (i.e., dried vs. raw) affects the overall sugar content in fruit.
(Note: this information was garnered from the United States Department Of Agriculture.)
|FRUIT||PORTION SIZE||SUGAR CONTENT|
|Cranberries – dried, sweetened||0.25 cup||29.02 g|
|Cranberries, raw||1 cup, chopped||4.70 g|
|Blackberries||1 cup||7.03 g|
|Raspberries||1 cup||5.44 g|
|Raspberries, frozen, red, unsweetened||1 cup||9.16 g|
|Blackberries||1 cup||7.03 g|
|Strawberries, frozen, unsweetened||1 cup thawed||10.08 g|
|Strawberries, frozen, sweetened, sliced||1 cup||61.23 g|
|Strawberries||1 cup, halves||7.43 g|
|Watermelon||1 cup, balls||9.55 g|
|Figs, dried, uncooked||1 cup||71.40 g|
|Apples, dried||1 cup||33.97 g|
|Apples, granny smith with skin||1 cup, sliced||10.45 g|
|Apples, golden delicious, with skin||1 cup, sliced||10.94 g|
|Apples, gala, with skin||1 cup, sliced||11.30 g|
|Peaches, frozen, sweetened||1 cup||55.45 g|
|Peaches, dried||1 cup||43.83 g|
|Pears, Asian, raw||1||8.60 g|
|Papaya||1 cup of 1’ pieces||11.34 g|
|Pears, red Anjou||1 small||12.02 g|
|Pears, dried, sulfured, uncooked||1 cup, halves||111.96 g|
|Pears, Bartlett||1 cup, sliced||13.57 g|
|Cherries, sour, red||1 cup without pits||13.16 g|
|Melons, honeydew||1 cup, diced||13.80 g|
|Melons, cantaloupe||1 cup, balls||13.91 g|
|Oranges, navel||1 cup sections||14.03 g|
|Blueberries, dried, sweetened||0.25 cup||27 g|
|Blueberries, frozen, unsweetened||1 cup||13.10 g|
|Grapefruit||1 cup sections with juice||15.85 g|
|Pineapple||1 cup, chunks||16.25 g|
|Plums||1 cup, sliced||16.37 g|
|Mangoes||1 cup pieces||22.54 g|
|Grapes, red or green||1 cup||23.37 g|
|Raisins, golden seedless||1 cup packed||108.41 g|
|Bananas||1 cup, mashed||27.52 g|
|Dates, deglet noor||1 cup, chopped||93.12 g|
|Apricots, dried, sulfured, uncooked||1 cup, halves||69.47 g|
|Passion fruit||1 cup||26.43 g|
Fruit is less likely to wreak havoc on your blood sugar than, say, a bag of gummy worms.
© Marian Vejcik | Dreamstime.com