Is The Sugar in Fruit Wrecking Your Diet?

Q: Is there too much sugar in fruit, and should I stop eating it altogether?

I know people want a simple, yes or no answer, but this question is one that requires a little more detail.

My bottom line is that there is indeed sugar in fruit (there is going to be a but so keep reading) and I generally recommend one or two servings of fruit per day, depending on the person, their lifestyle, their goals and the long list of other factors I consider when I am customizing a meal plan.

I get a little sad when I hear that people don’t eat fruit at all because it’s “too high in carbs” or “too full of sugar.”

I promise you, we are not dealing with an obesity epidemic because of fruit (I have clients who chow down on M&M’s but won’t touch a banana!), but I do think it can be overeaten.

Eating apples all day will add up, unlike the cucumbers you are snacking on as a “freebie,” which is why I do often limit people to one to two servings of fruit per day.

Even though fruit does contain approximately 15 grams of sugar per serving (small apple, cup of berries), it also has a lot of great “stuff” in it, like phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water, to name a few.

This “stuff” adds to your health by helping prevent disease, improving your skin and immune system and aiding in weight loss by helping you to stay satisfied and full.

The body really does know how to use every part of the peach, melon, berries and banana.

Also, the sugar in fruit is natural. It’s not the same as a spoonful of refined sugar, such as table sugar, which only provides calories in the form of sugar and nada else.  This sugar causes inflammation and will turn to fat fast if it is not needed for energy.

When people ask me what fruit I recommend, I usually say that they should choose the fruits that they enjoy the most.

A caveat to this: if you’re watching your weight, I’ll suggest one to two servings of the lower sugar fruits – berries over bananas, for example.  Again, with that said, we are not an obese nation because we are eating too many bananas.

Lower sugar fruits include:

  • Lemon and limes (and their cousins grapefruits and oranges), which may not be eaten like a traditional fruit, but offer amazing flavor in water, seltzer or on lean proteins (they also are fabulous for liver cleansing properties)
  • Rhubarb and cranberries (if you can tolerate a compote without too much added sugars)
  • Berries such as blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries (no beating their high fiber content and antioxidant properties)

Higher sugar fruits (which on occasion I do have clients limit), include:

  • Bananas
  • Cherries
  • Dried fruit (raisins, dried apricots, prunes)
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Mangoes
  • Pomegranates
  • Tangerines

If you still need a fruit “prescription”, go for one to two servings a day of an organic, in season, ripe piece of goodness that you are craving.

And, enjoy each and every bite.

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The Nutritious Life Editors are a team of healthy lifestyle enthusiasts who not only subscribe to — and live! — the 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life, but also have access to some of the savviest thought leaders in the health and wellness space — including our founder and resident dietitian, Keri Glassman. From the hottest trends in wellness to the latest medical science, we stay on top of it all in order to deliver the info YOU need to live your most nutritious life.

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