Look: We need sugar to survive, both physically and emotionally (hi, pints on pints of Ben & Jerry’s). But even with fruits, you can inadvertently have too much of a good thing.
That said, you shouldn’t just cut out fruits altogether when trying to limit sugar intake. Fruits contain important nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants—and increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce your cancer and mortality risk.
Instead, reach for fruits that are lower in sugar per serving. While Hortman says there aren’t any official guidelines as to what constitutes a “low-sugar” fruit, she says that “fruits containing higher fiber and water content dilute the amount of sugar or carbohydrate in a fruit.”
Without further (avoca)ado, these low-sugar fruits will allow you to get your sugar fix minus the dreaded energy crash.
Yes, the reason millennials can’t afford to buy real estate is also a solid source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber. Avocados are so tasty and low in sugar that they make the perfect dessert substitute, says Hortman. Just swap your typical sweetener for some pureed avocado in your favorite milkshake, mousse, and cake recipes.
Per 1/3 fruit: 80 cal, 7 g fat (1 g sat), 4 g carbs, 0.3 g sugar, 4 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 1 g protein.
Watermelon might be your next favorite workout recovery snack. In a small study from the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, researchers found that the amino acids in the fruit juice helped athletes recover faster (and feel less sore) after working out. Watermelon is also high in the antioxidant lycopene.
Per 1-cup serving: 46 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 12 g carbs, 10 g sugar, 2 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein.
Apples are the perfect mid-day snack because of their high soluble fiber content, which “absorbs water to become thick like the viscous texture of cooked oatmeal,” says Hortman. They’ve also been shown to lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
Per small apple: 77 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 21 g carbs, 15 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 0 g protein.
The fruit (which, despite its name, isn’t technically a berry!) is packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants, has a decent amount of fiber, and can help reduce inflammation.
Per 1-cup serving: 49 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 12 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 2 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 1 g protein.
This citrus fruit ranks low on the sugar scale, with a bitter tartness to match. You also get half of your daily recommended value of vitamin C by eating just half of a fruit. But talk to your doc if you’re taking meds—the FDA warns that grapefruit (and grapefruit juice) can have bad interactions with several types of drugs, including statins for cholesterol and even some types of antihistamines.
Per 1/2 medium grapefruit: 41 cal, 0.2 g fat (0 g sat), 10 g carbs, 9 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 0.8 g protein.
Limes are another great low-sugar fruit: only one gram of sugar in the entire fruit. You’ll also get nearly a third of your daily vitamin C dose per fruit. So don’t be afraid to use it to flavor salad dressings and fish tacos, or garnish your seltzer water when you’re feeling fancy.
Per medium lime: 20 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 7 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 1 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 0.5 g protein.
The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as the pathway to longevity, and thankfully, olives (which yes, are a fruit) are a staple. A small study from the American Journal of Hypertension found that polyphenol-rich olive oil is linked to decreased blood pressure in women who have high blood pressure or hypertension. While low in sugar, olives are often sold in cans and jars high in sodium, so keep an eye on portion sizes.
Per 2-tbsp serving: 20 cal, 2 g fat (0.5 g sat), 1 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 124 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein.
As a green-juice ingredient, we typically think of cukes as spa-friendly veggies. Surprise: They’re actually a fruit. Hortman says you can safely eat up to three and a half cups of cucumbers as a serving (since they’re basically all water), making them great for mindless munching.
Per 1/2-cup serving: 8 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 2 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 1 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein.
Tomatoes are a rich source of the carotenoid lycopene, which can help protect the skin against ultraviolet rays (but nope, it can’t replace SPF), strengthen bones, and even prevent asthma. And the low-sugar fruit is low in carbohydrates, too.
Per 1-cup serving: 32 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 7 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 9 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein.
While squash has a rep for being starchy, it offers way more benefits than other starchy carbs like bread and potatoes. Technically a fruit, according to Hortman, squash’s fiber can help stabilize blood sugar levels while slowing down digestion—keeping the intestinal tract healthy and keeping you full for longer.
Per 1-cup serving: 63 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 16 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 6 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 1.5 g protein.
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