First things first: fruit is your friend. Sure, a staggering one in 10 Americans has diabetes, but bananas are not the culprit.
Unlike ultra-processed foods that are filled with added sugars (think: corn syrup and cane sugar), fruit contains natural sugar called fructose. Fruit also provides hydration—most fruits are about 90% water!—and fiber. The presence of fiber helps to slow down the body’s absorption of sugars like fructose from the gut into the blood, meaning you experience less of a blood sugar spike after eating an apple compared to, say, a cookie.
Of course it’s possible to overdo anything, fruit included. Consuming very large amounts of fruit everyday (fruitarianism, anyone?) may hike up blood sugar levels over time. This is especially important to consider for people with insulin resistance (IR) or Type 2 diabetes who are striving to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Or for the 88 million Americans—that’s more than 1 in 3 adults—living with prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But we want to be clear: Nobody needs to cut fruit from their diet, even if they have IR or diabetes. Fruit is an essential part of a nutritious diet. That said, it’s helpful for everyone to have a sense of which fruits are the highest and lowest in sugar, and to be aware of what a serving of fruit looks like. Because a whole bag of grapes is not a single serving (sorry!).
In general, we recommend sticking to two or three servings of fruit per day. Be sure to choose whole fruits instead of juices, which lack that critical fiber we mentioned earlier.
Curious which fruits are the highest in sugar? Read on for our high-sugar fruit list and then check out our low-sugar fruit list here.
5 Highest-Sugar Fruits
Pomegranates are high on the sugar scale, with 1 cup of the juicy kernels serving up nearly 24 grams of sugar. But the vibrant fruit is also jam-packed with longevity-friendly antioxidants like anthocyanins.
Stick with ½ cup as a serving (which will cut the sugar down to 12 grams) and combine it with a source of high-quality protein so you aren’t eating the carbs alone. We love sprinkling pom seeds on top of Greek yogurt for a tart topping.
One cup of mango can bring 23 grams of sugar to the table, but it also provides two-thirds of your daily needs for vitamin C. Stick with ½ cup as a serving of this tropical fruit.
Another option? Whip up this Avocado and Mango Salsa that pairs the sweet fruit with heart-healthy fats thanks to the avocado. Add it to your fave fish tacos or use it as a dip for crudite.
Anyone else get super excited for seasonal fruits? For us, summer screams cherries (and watermelon and berries and, let’s be real, ice cream). Go for ½ cup of cherries to cut the sugar content down to about 10 grams per serving.
Bananas get a bad rap, but the potassium-rich fruits are satisfying and versatile. After all, what other fruit can become pancakes and ice cream?!
Stick with 1 small banana or ½ of a large banana as a serving and you’ll get about 12 grams of sugar from the fruit. Also smart: pair your ‘nana with a source of healthy fat or protein if you’re looking to level off your blood sugar response. We love our Chocolate, Banana, Almond Butter smoothie that combines bananas with protein powder, collagen peptides and nuts for a balanced breakfast.
One large orange contains 17 grams of sugar and is packed with goodness. That same large orange provides more than 100% of your daily value for immune-supportive vitamin C, plus 4.5 grams of fiber. Stick with a small orange as a serving.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Watching your sugar? Here are 5 lowest-sugar fruits that satisfy your sweet tooth
Anthea Levi, MS, RD, is a Brooklyn-based registered dietitian and health reporter. She currently works in private practice at Culina Health and contributes to various media outlets, including Livestrong.com and Nutritious Life.
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