Weight Loss

A Guide to Low-Sugar Fruits

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Can fruit help with a sweet craving for individuals trying to limit sugar?

Fruits Low In Sugar

Fruits and their natural sugars: Whether following a low-carbohydrate diet or having diabetes and watching your A1C, many have heard that fruit is either bad or okay because of its natural sugars. Sugars in fruit are natural. How they affect blood sugar depends on various factors, like which foods they’re paired with and if diabetes is a factor. Counting carbs or noting the glycemic index or glycemic load of foods being eaten, understanding low-sugar fruits can help make choices that best fit your dietary needs. Certain fruits are considered lower in sugar because they contain fewer carbohydrates and sugar, allowing you to consume a larger portion.

  • One serving of fruit has about 15 grams of carbohydrates.
  • A serving is one small apple, half a medium-sized banana, or a cup of berries.
  • Fruits like berries can be eaten in more significant portions for the same amount of carbohydrates but less sugar.

Fruits

Low-sugar fruits include:

  • Lemons and Limes
  • Rhubarb
  • Apricots
  • Cranberries
  • Guava
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Kiwi
  • Figs
  • Tangerines
  • Grapefruit

Natural Sugar

How much fruit an individual eats may differ if they follow a specific low-carb meal plan or are counting or modifying their carbohydrate intake because of diabetes. Adults should consume two cups of fruit or juice or a half-cup of dried fruit daily. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015) Most fruits have a low glycemic index/GI because of the amount of fiber they contain and because the sugar is mostly fructose. However, dried fruits like raisins, dates, sweetened cranberries, melons, and pineapples have a medium glycemic index. Sweetened dried fruits have an even higher glycemic index.

Fruits from Lowest to Highest Content

Fruits are a healthy way to satisfy a sweet craving. The fruits listed are ranked from lowest to highest sugar content, providing a quick way to assess sugar content. The fruits lowest in sugar have some of the highest nutritional values, plus antioxidants and other phytonutrients.

Limes and Lemons

Limes contain:

  • 1.1 grams of sugar
  • 7 grams of carbs
  • 1.9 grams of fiber per fruit

Lemons contain:

  • 1.5 grams of sugar
  • 5.4 grams of carbs
  • 1.6 grams of fiber per fruit

Rhubarb

Rhubarb contains:

  • 1.3 grams of sugar
  • 5.5 grams of carbs
  • 2.2 grams of fiber per cup

Apricots

Apricots contain:

  • 3.2 grams of sugar
  • 3.8 grams of carbs
  • 0.7 grams of fiber per small apricot

Apricots are available fresh in spring and early summer. They can be eaten whole, skin and all. However, watch portions of dried apricots as they shrink when dried.

Cranberries

Cranberries contain:

  • 3.8 grams of sugar
  • 12 grams of carbs
  • 3.6 grams of fiber per cup when fresh.

While they’re low in sugar, be aware that they are usually sweetened when dried or used in a recipe.

Guavas

Guava contains:

  • 4.9 grams of sugar
  • 7.9 grams of carbs
  • 3 grams of fiber per fruit

They can be sliced or dipped in salty sauce, including the rind.

Berries

These fruits generally have the lowest sugar content and are among the highest in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Berries, lemon, and lime can be added to flavor water.

Raspberries

Raspberries contain:

  • 5.4 grams of sugar
  • 14.7 grams of carbs
  • 8 grams of fiber per cup

Eat a handful, or use them as a topping or ingredient. Fresh in summer or frozen year-round.

Blackberries

Blackberries contain:

  • 7 grams of sugar
  • 13.8 grams of carbs
  • 7.6 grams of fiber per cup

Strawberries contain:

  • 7.4 grams of sugar
  • 11.7 grams of carbs
  • 3 grams of fiber per cup

Berries are excellent choices for a snack, a fruit salad, or an ingredient in a smoothie, sauce, or dessert.

Blueberries

Blueberries contain:

  • 15 grams of sugar
  • 21 grams of carbs
  • 3.6 grams of fiber per cup

While blueberries are higher in sugar than other berries, they’re packed with powerful antioxidants.

Kiwis

Kiwis contain:

  • 6.2 grams of sugar
  • 10.1 grams of carbs
  • 2.1 grams of fiber per kiwi

Kiwis have a mild flavor, and the seeds and skin can be eaten.

Figs

Figs contain:

  • 6.5 grams of sugar
  • 7.7 grams of carbs
  • 1.2 grams of fiber per small fig

These figures are for fresh figs, and it may be harder to estimate for dried figs of different varieties, which can have 5 to 12 grams of sugar per fig.

Tangerines

Tangerines contain:

  • 8 grams of sugar
  • 10.1 grams of carbs
  • 1.3 grams of fiber per medium fruit

These low-sugar citrus fruits have less sugar than oranges and are great for salads. They are also portable, making them healthy additions to packed lunches and snacks.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit contains:

  • 8.5 grams of sugar
  • 13 grams of carbs
  • 2 grams of fiber per half fresh grapefruit

Individuals can enjoy fresh grapefruit in a fruit salad or by itself, adjusting the amount of sugar or sweetener.

Low-Carb Diets

Individuals following a low-carb eating plan should remember that while some popular diet plans factor in the glycemic index or glycemic load of foods, others only factor in the number of carbohydrates.

20 Grams of Carbohydrates or Less

  • Individuals will likely not consume fruit or rarely substitute it for other food items with less than 20 grams of carbohydrates daily.
  • Nutrients are obtained from vegetables.
  • Some diets don’t even allow low-sugar fruits in the first phase.

20-50 Grams of Carbohydrates

  • These eating plans allow 20 to 50 grams of carbs daily, allowing room for one daily fruit serving.

50-100 Grams of Carbohydrates

  • If the eating plan allows 50 to 100 grams of carbs per day, individuals may be able to follow the FDA guidelines for two fruit servings a day, as long as other resources of carbohydrates are limited.
  • Other popular plans, like the Paleo diet and Whole30, don’t place a limit on fruit.
  • Although not necessarily a low-carb diet, Weight Watchers also allows fruit.

In general, individuals following a low-carb diet are recommended to try to eat fruits low in sugar.

Diabetes

Fruit choices when managing diabetes will depend on the type of diet being followed. For example, when counting carbohydrates, individuals should know that 1/2 cup of frozen or canned fruit has about 15 grams of carbohydrates.

  • Enjoy 3/4 to 1 cup of fresh berries, melon, or 17 grapes for the same carbs.
  • If using the plate method, add a small piece of whole fruit or 1/2 cup of fruit salad to the plate.
  • When using the glycemic index to guide food choices, remember that most fruits have a low GI and are encouraged.
  • Melons, pineapples, and dried fruits have medium GI index values, so watch portion size.

Individuals with diabetes may want to consult their primary doctor or a registered dietitian to help design an eating plan that incorporates fruit appropriately.


Body In Balance: Chiropractic, Fitness, and Nutrition


References

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

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The information herein on "A Guide to Low-Sugar Fruits" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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