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Low-Sugar Fruits: 12 Best to Eat, Recommended by Dietitians – EatingWell

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Many people consume more sugar than they realize. In fact, most U.S. adults consume as much as 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugar daily. That’s more than three times the American Heart Association’s recommended limit of 6 teaspoons (25 g) of added sugar for women per day and double the 9 teaspoon limit (36 g) set for men. What’s more, excess added sugar is linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Brownies and apples both have sugar, so is all sugar the same? Not really. It’s important to understand the difference between natural and added sugar. Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruits (fructose and glucose) and milk (lactose). On the other hand, added sugars are added to food during processing.

Although your body processes both types of sugar in the same way, it’s important to consider the whole package. Colette Micko, M.S., RDN, CDES, a registered dietitian from Top Nutrition Coaching, says, “There are many benefits to eating whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, which often have a moderate amount of natural sugars. Those benefits include fiber, vitamins/minerals and phytochemicals”. 

Research also supports the health benefits of fruit despite their sugar content. “A recent study found there to be an inverse relationship between consumption of whole fruit and diabetes risk. The more whole fruit consumed (each 300 gm/day of whole fruit) reduced risk of developing diabetes. This may seem contrary to what most people think,” says Micko.

However, people with diabetes, for example, may need to consider how much natural sugar a food contains. “Any sugar consumption, whether it is natural or added sugars, contributes to total carbohydrates per day. With this, individuals with diabetes may need to reduce their intake of natural sugars to meet their daily total carbohydrates recommended by their registered dietitian or physician”, says Erika Barrera, M.P.H., RDN, registered dietitian and wellness educator at Leafe Nutrition. 

To help you navigate your choices when it comes to fruit and sugar, we’ve ranked low-sugar fruits from lowest to highest sugar content. 

1. Lemons and Limes

Natural Sugar: 1 gram per piece and 2 grams per piece

Lemons and limes are culinary staples for adding zippy brightness to dishes. They also top this list as the lowest-sugar fruits, with 1 and 2 grams of sugar per fruit, respectively. In addition to their lower sugar content, these citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C. Since snacking on one of these sour fruits alone is unlikely, try them in this flavorful One-Pan Cilantro-Lime Chicken or this refreshing Lemon Frozen Yogurt Ripieno.

2. Avocado

Natural Sugar: 1 gram per piece

Although many people may assume that avocados are vegetables since they aren’t very sweet, they are actually fruit. These creamy fruits have only 1 gram of sugar for an entire piece. In addition to being lower in sugar, avocados are also surprisingly high in fiber, with around 7 grams of fiber per half of an avocado. Julie Pace, RDN from Core Nutrition Health & Wellness, says, “Adding avocados to meals can boost satiety, support weight management goals, nourish gut health, reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, and enhance diet quality.” Avocado makes a great salad topper, and we’re all familiar with avocado toast—but have you tried these Avocado Fries with Sriracha Aioli yet?

3. Raspberries

Natural Sugar: 5 grams per 1 cup

Not only are juicy raspberries low in sugar, with just 5 grams of natural sugar per cup, but they are also low in calories and incredibly high in fiber. Just one cup provides 8 grams of fiber, which is over one-fourth of the 25-34 daily grams of fiber recommended for American adults. Keeping your freezer stocked with some frozen raspberries means you can blend up this Mango Raspberry Smoothie anytime. 

4. Kiwis

Natural Sugar: 7 grams per piece

“One small kiwi has just 6 grams of natural sugar, 2 grams of fiber and nearly 90% of your daily recommended value of vitamin C! They are also a rich source of carotenoids, a specific type of phytochemical, that has been shown to promote eye and skin health,” says Micko. These fuzzy little fruits also offer many other health benefits, from constipation relief to better sleep. Mango and pineapple aren’t the only fruits that can be used as a delicious taco topper; these Easy Fish Tacos with Kiwi Salsa are a delicious option for taco night.

5. Blackberries

Natural Sugar: 7 grams per 1 cup

Although they have slightly more sugar than raspberries, blackberries are another great low-sugar fruit. “One cup of blackberries has just 7 grams of natural sugar and 8 grams of dietary fiber (that’s a great bang for your buck). Blackberries are also a rich source of phytochemicals (plant compounds that fight disease), including those that have been shown to fight off illness, prevent chronic disease and improve memory,” says Micko. Level up your toast with this homemade Blackberry Jam with hints of lime and ginger. Blackberries are not just for sweet dishes either; try these Blackberry BBQ Pork Chops for dinner, and you’ll see. 

6. Strawberries

Natural Sugar: 7 grams per 1 cup halved

Strawberries may be one of the most popular small fruits on the market. In addition to offering almost 100% of the daily value for vitamin C per serving, strawberries are also low in sugar, with just 7 grams per 1 cup of halved strawberries. The combination of fiber, antioxidants and potassium in strawberries also makes them a boon for your heart health. Sweet, juicy strawberries are a delicious addition to spring salads like this Strawberry-Balsamic Spinach Salad with Chicken

7. Watermelon

Natural Sugar: 10 grams per 1 cup

The lower sugar level of watermelon can be attributed in part to the high water content of this summer fruit. A 1-cup serving of watermelon has less than 10 grams of sugar and up to 5 ounces of water. Watermelon is also rich in lycopene, an oxidative stress-busting antioxidant that has been associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Sweet watermelon and creamy, tangy goat cheese are a magical duo in this Watermelon & Goat Cheese Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette.

8. Grapefruit

Natural Sugar: 11 grams per ½ piece

You may be surprised that grapefruit, which is famously tart, is so high on the list. However, it is still considered a low-sugar fruit, with just ½ a grapefruit less than 11 grams of sugar. Grapefruit is rich in vitamins A and C, two top nutrients that help support your immune system. (Especially important during cold and flu season.) Want to try adding some grapefruit to your diet? This Fennel & Grapefruit Salad makes a simple and colorful side for chicken, fish, or pork.

9. Papaya

Natural Sugar: 11 grams per 1 cup cubed

Papaya’s 11 grams of sugar per cup of cubed papaya is much lower than that of other popular tropical fruits like pineapple or mango. Additionally, papaya is high in folate—around 54 mcg per cup or about 14% of the recommended daily value for folate. While you can enjoy it alone, papaya is a great addition to fruit salad. This Coconut-Cream Fruit Salad topped with a zippy dressing made from lime and ginger will have you thinking about a tropical vacation. 

10. Cantaloupe

Natural Sugar: 13 grams per 1 cup cubed

Like watermelon, it also has a high water content, so snacking on this fruit can help you meet your hydration goals. Cantaloupe is also a great source of beta-carotene, the ‘provitamin’ that gets converted into vitamin A in the body to support vision and reproductive health. One cup of cantaloupe has nearly one-third of the daily value for vitamin A. Try adding cantaloupe to your next salad. This Cantaloupe, Arugula & Goat Cheese Salad pairs sweet cantaloupe with peppery arugula and crunchy pistachios for a simple but flavorful side salad. 

11. Oranges

Natural Sugar: 12 grams per piece

Although orange juice is high in sugar, whole oranges made our list of lower-sugar fruits. That’s because you need around three oranges for one cup of fresh juice. A whole orange contains 12 grams of sugar and is a good source of fiber, offering 3 grams per fruit. In addition to vitamin C, oranges are also a good source of essential nutrients like potassium and folate. If you’re looking for a flavorful weeknight dinner, enjoy these Orange-Ginger Chicken Bowls. Or enjoy a bowl of this Orange Creamsicle Nice Cream for dessert. 

12. Peaches

Natural Sugar: 13 grams per piece

Biting into a sun-ripened, juicy and sweet peach may be the best of summer’s simple pleasures. These fuzzy fruits have less than 13 grams of sugar per piece and other nutrients like fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C. Like many fruits, peaches offer soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber keeps cholesterol levels in check, while insoluble fiber aids digestion by preventing constipation—along with many other benefits from each. Maximize your fiber intake by eating the skin of the peach. Have leftover ricotta cheese? Try this 5-minute Pistachio & Peach Toast recipe, which pairs creamy ricotta with fresh sliced peaches and honey.

The Bottom Line

There are many benefits associated with monitoring your sugar intake, but cutting back on your sugar intake can be confusing. The best approach is to limit added sugars instead of focusing too much on naturally occurring ones found in foods like fruit. Foods with natural sugars are packaged with other beneficial nutrients like fiber and antioxidants. For those with certain health conditions like diabetes who must consider their overall sugar intake, this list can help you monitor your intake. In addition, “pairing any fruit with healthy fats, such as avocados, seeds, and nuts, is a great way to reduce the glycemic index of the fruit to promote blood sugar control,” says Barrera.

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