I am trying to watch my sugar. When choosing fruits, are there particular ones to stay away from because of sugar content? Also, is sugar in fruits any different than sugar in ice cream or candy? Thanks

It is good that you are monitoring sugar intake. It is also beneficial that you are adding fruit to your diet. Fruit can be a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. They are generally low in calories and can be a great and filling snack. It is true that different fruits have different “sugar” contents. Let me explain first that fruit sugar is known as “fructose”. It is found naturally in fruits, vegetables and their juices, in addition to honey. It is granulated and looks much like table sugar but it is approximately 1.2 times sweeter than sucrose (cane sugar). Many dietitians agree that even though the caloric content of fructose is similar to table sugar, since it is sweeter, one can use less to achieve the same level of sweetness. In regards to your question about differences between fruit sugar and ice cream sugar I will suggest you look at each individual food item. For example, a serving of ice cream (100 grams) may contain 21 grams of sugar. A serving of fruit such as blackberries may contain 8 grams of sugar. However, one could challenge and say that figs contain approximately 19 grams of sugar, which is not so far off the ice cream. The difference is this: fruits are considered nutrient dense foods, meaning, they contain hundreds of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and fiber that are disease fighting. Ice cream lacks that ability. In addition, the serving of fruit will not have the same impact on blood sugar levels as a serving of ice cream would because of the fiber/water content of the fruit. So, not only do most fruits contain less “sugar” than ice cream, they have disease- fighting properties and can satisfy the sweet tooth.

Fruits low in sugar include cranberries, blue/blackberries, lemons/limes, passion fruit, strawberries, watermelon, rhubarb, and honeydew melon. Higher levels of sugar can be found in fruits such as: cherries, grapes, pomegranates, bananas, figs and dried fruit (dates, raisins, dried apricots etc.). Please keep in mind that you do not need to avoid the fruits with the higher sugar contents, you just need to be mindful (as with any other foods) of portion sizes so you don’t consume too many calories/grams of sugar at one setting. A serving size for a typical piece of fruit is about the size of a tennis ball (or a woman’s fist). If the orange you select at the supermarket is much bigger than this, you may count it as 1½ servings. Other common fruit serving sizes would include: 6 strawberries, two plums, ¾ cup of 100% fruit juice, ¼ cup of dried fruit, ½ cup canned or frozen fruits. If the fruit is canned, make sure you are selecting one that is not packed in heavy syrup. Choose those packed in light syrup and then drain the additional fluid before consumption.

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