Fruits with high sugar contents include fruits such as pineapples, watermelon and pear. A cup of pineapple contains 16.3 grams, which equals about 8 teaspoons of sugar. Watermelon has 12.9 grams of sugar per cup, which equals 7 teaspoons. One small pear has 9.1 grams, which is 5 teaspoonfuls of sugar in total.
10 Foods High in Sugar Contents
Glucose is your brain’s preferred source of energy, and it’s found in foods such as honey and fruit.
There are several types of sweet stuff, simple and complex, that all get broken down into one simple sugar that our body loves to use: glucose.
When you eat carbohydrates, whether it be from whole-wheat bread, a piece of fruit or a glass of milk, your body eventually breaks those carbs down into glucose to be used as energy, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Some foods are naturally high in pure glucose or another sugar that breaks down into glucose while other foods have glucose added to them in the form of added sugars.
The Important Role of Glucose
All carbohydrates that you eat are broken down by the body into fructose, galactose and glucose, with 80 percent of the end product being glucose, per a September 2021 article in StatPearls.
Glucose enters the bloodstream where it does two things, per the University of Michigan Health:
- It’s transported by the hormone insulin into cells to be used as energy
- Leftover glucose is stored in fat cells or the liver as glycogen to be used for energy in the future
Your body breaks down a variety of carbohydrates to glucose to be used as energy. Complex carbs include starches like beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These starches have fiber and other nutrients that slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Simple carbohydrates can be naturally found in foods like fruit and dairy products and can also be added to foods like candy, soft drinks, baked goods and syrups, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Simple carbs are broken down quickly, increasing the amount of glucose in your blood much faster than complex carbohydrates.
Glucose is your body’s preferred source of energy, but too much sugar comes with some health risks. A diet high in sugar, especially added sugars, can contribute to weight gain, tooth decay, elevated triglyceride levels and heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
How Much Glucose Should You Have in a Day?
There’s no set limit for how much glucose you should have per day, but there are recommendations for limiting your added sugar.
People assigned female at birth should aim for less than 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams, of added sugar per day and people assigned male at birth should keep their intake below 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams, per the American Heart Association.
Foods High in Glucose
1. Grape Juice: 17.2 g
Grape juice is higher in glucose than grapes, which have 10.9 grams of glucose per cup.
Fruit juice, even ones made from 100 percent juice, is often high in sugar and low in fiber. One cup of grape juice has 17.2 grams of glucose and only 0.5 grams of fiber.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that isn’t broken down into glucose, but it does help regulate how quickly the body uses sugar, slowing down the release of glucose into the bloodstream, per the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.
2. Soft Drinks: 15.2 g
One can of cola has more added sugar than is recommended in a day. Along with 37 grams of sugar, there are 15.2 grams of glucose in a 12-ounce can of cola. Sugar-sweetened beverages, like cola, are the largest source of added sugar in the American diet, per an April 2019 review in Circulation.
3. Jackfruit: 15.6 g
Jackfruit is a fruit high in glucose that makes a great, realistic meat substitute
Jackfruit is a go-to meat substitute when you’re craving a pulled pork sandwich. One cup of sliced jackfruit has 15.6 grams of glucose. This fruit has a stringy texture similar to pulled meat and is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. Unlike many other plant-based meat substitutes, jackfruit is low in protein with less than 3 grams per cup.
If you’re unsure what to do with this tropical fruit, brush up on exactly how to cook jackfruit and get creative in your plant-based cooking.
4. Dried Cranberries: 11.9 g
Choose unsweetened cranberries for less glucose.
Just 1/4 cup of sweetened dried cranberries has 11.9 grams of glucose. Like other dried fruit, dried cranberries have much more sugar per serving than their fresh counterpart.
Most dried cranberries are sold sweetened to mask their tart taste, but if you can find the unsweetened variety, you’ll reap the health benefits of dried cranberries without the extra added sugar.
5. Cherries: 10.1 g
The smallest of the stone fruits, cherries have 10.1 grams of glucose in each cup.
Cherries are rich in polyphenols, a natural plant compound that research suggests is linked to a decreased risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and heart disease, per a March 2018 review in Nutrients.
6. Sweet Tea: 9.7 g
An old Southern Staple, sweet tea has taken residence as a popular drink no matter where you go. Just like other sugar-sweetened beverages, most of the sugar in sweet tea comes from added sugars and has 9.7 grams of glucose per cup.
While plain tea has many health benefits, drinking too much sweet tea can quickly put you over the recommended limit for added sugars.
7. Honey: 7.5 g
Honey, maple syrup, molasses and table sugar are all sources of glucose and are considered added sugars.
Honey is nature’s sweetener. Even though it comes from a natural source, honey is still considered an added sugar, with 7.5 grams of glucose in one tablespoon, and it affects your blood sugar in a way similar to table sugar, per the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
But, honey is sweeter than table sugar, meaning you may be able to use less of it to get the same flavor.
8. Canned Tomato Puree: 6.1 g
There’s nothing more useful on your pantry shelf than a can of tomato sauce. One cup of canned tomato puree has 6.1 grams of glucose and is an excellent source of potassium, iron and vitamin C. Don’t limit yourself to pasta only — try these comforting (non-noodle) recipes with tomato sauce.
9. Sweet Corn: 5 g
Sweet corn is a vegetable higher in starch, like potatoes, peas, legumes and winter squash.
As one of the starchy vegetables, corn has more sugar than other types of veggies, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid it. Sweet corn is a vegetable high in glucose: 1 cup has 5 grams. It’s also a good source of magnesium, folate, and has 21 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) for vitamin B5.
Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is essential for turning the food you eat into useable energy, per the National Institutes of Health. Plus, nothing tastes like summer quite like sun-kissed sweet corn.
10. Barbecue Sauce: 2.8 g
Don’t forget the condiments. Sauces and dressings like ketchup, salad dressing and barbecue can include natural sugars as well as added ones. One tablespoon of barbecue sauce has 2.8 grams of glucose.
Barbecue sauce can also be high in sodium, with 8 percent of your DV coming from just one serving. Choosing reduced sodium sauce can help decrease the sodium by 25 percent or more per serving.
Best Fruits to Eat for People With Diabetes
- If you have diabetes, you do not have to eliminate fruit from your diet, but you should be mindful about the amount and type of fruit you eat.
- Low-glycemic fruits have less of an effect on blood sugar levels. Examples include berries, some citrus fruits like grapefruit, and apples.
- It is best to pair fruit with protein to prevent blood sugar spikes.
Looking for a diabetes-friendly fix to your sweet tooth? Look no further than your produce drawer. Fruit is a great alternative to other forms of sugar for people with diabetes who want to keep their blood sugar levels in check but also want a sweet treat. While fruits contain sugar, they also contain other important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And studies show that eating fruit lowers the risk of other health complications in people with diabetes.
All fruit can fit into a healthy, diabetes-friendly diet. But low-glycemic fruit might be a better option for blood sugar balance. Let’s go over how fruit impacts blood sugar and which fruits are best for people with diabetes.
How does fruit impact blood sugar for people with diabetes?
Fruits contain a natural sugar called fructose. When a person eats fructose, the liver quickly breaks it down, which then leads to a rise in blood sugar levels.
Fruits also contain fiber, which can help slow down the digestion of sugar and prevent blood sugar spikes. Because the fructose in fruit is accompanied by fiber, it won’t cause as much of a blood sugar spike as would eating foods with added sugars, like candy. Plus, fiber has many health benefits, including reducing fasting glucose and hemoglobin a1c in people with diabetes.
Fruits with an edible peel — like apples, pears, cherries, and berries — have the most fiber. Fruit juices, on the other hand, have no fiber.
Which fruits are best for people with diabetes?
The glycemic index (GI) is a useful tool for choosing which fruits to eat if you have diabetes. The GI ranks food based on how quickly it impacts blood sugar levels. Fruits with a higher GI may cause your blood sugar to rise quickly compared to lower-GI fruits. So fruits with a lower GI are better for someone with diabetes.
The ranking system looks like this:
- Low GI: 1-55
- Medium GI: 56-69
- High GI: 70 and up
Some examples of low-GI fruits (and their GI scores) include:
- Apple (36)
- Blackberries (25)
- Cherries (22)
- Grapefruit (25)
- Orange (47)
- Strawberry (40)
Some examples of high-GI fruits (and their GI scores) include:
- Mango (60)
- Banana, ripe (62)
- Dried cranberries (64)
- Pineapple (66)
- Raisins (66)
- Watermelon (76)
It’s also important to know that the riper the fruit, the higher the GI. For example, a brown banana has a higher GI than a green banana, so it impacts blood glucose (sugar) more.
How much fruit should people with diabetes eat?
If you have diabetes, you can incorporate fruit into your daily diet, but it is important to pay attention to serving size and the type of fruit. Try to stick with one serving of low-GI fruit per meal. One serving of fruit contains roughly 15 g of carbohydrates. Here are some examples of one serving of low-GI fruit:
|Apple||1 small apple (approx 2 ¾ in diameter)|
⅔ cup baked apple
|Blackberries||1 cup blackberries|
|Cherries||1 cup cherries|
|Grapefruit||1 medium grapefruit (approx 4 in diameter)|
|Orange||1 large orange|
1 cup sections
|Strawberry||8 large strawberries|
1 cup whole, halved, or sliced
What about canned and dried fruit and fruit juice?
It depends on the kind. People with diabetes should focus on fresh or frozen fruit instead of canned fruit, dried fruit, and fruit juices. Here are some things to consider when it comes to each kind of fruit product:
- Canned fruit is OK: But be sure to read the ingredient label. Canned fruits sometimes contain added sugars like cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Look for “no added sugar,” “unsweetened,” or “packed in its own juices” on the front of the food label.
- Eat dried fruits in smaller portions: Even though dried fruits like raisins and craisins contain fiber, they are higher in carbohydrates per serving. This can lead to bigger blood sugar spikes compared to whole fruits.
- Minimize fruit juice: Fruit juice lacks fiber and can cause your blood sugar to increase quickly.
Tips for eating fruit with diabetes
When deciding which type of fruit to eat, aim for a low-glycemic fruit most of the time. And consider the “no naked carb” rule. In other words, pair your serving of fruit with a protein source, like ½ cup of Greek yogurt, a tablespoon of peanut butter, or an ounce of cheese. Studies show that eating protein with fruit and other carbohydrates can slow down digestion, keep you fuller for longer, and help balance blood sugar.
Here are 6 ways to incorporate fruit into your diet:
- Eat 1 cup apple slices with 1 or 2 tbsp of all-natural peanut butter.
- Mix 1 cup sliced strawberries into ½ cup plain Greek yogurt.
- Pair 1 cup blackberries with a small handful of plain mixed nuts.
- Add 1 cup of orange slices to an arugula salad.
- Cut a grapefruit in half, broil it for 3-5 minutes, and top it with yogurt and crumbled pistachios.
- Pair 1 cup of cherries with 1 oz of cheese.
5 Diabetes-Friendly Fruits with Other Benefits
My patients with diabetes often ask me, “Can I eat bananas if I’m diabetic?” “This is mango season. Can I eat some mangoes?”. Of course, you can. Just be sure you know what to eat. There is a common misconception that diabetics shouldn’t eat fruit. Fruit contains a natural sugar called fructose, which raises blood sugar levels. However, fruits are great sources of vitamins, minerals, healthy phytochemicals, and fiber, and should be part of your daily diet.
Diabetics should count carbs in their daily diet and balance their diet, lifestyle, and medicine based on the carbs they consume. Even though fruits are incredibly nutrient-dense, the fructose they contain raises blood glucose levels. Choosing a healthy fruit depends on its glycemic load, glycemic index, and carb count.
Knowing carb-counting, glycemic load, and glycemic index
Fruits contain approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving. However, serving sizes can vary greatly based on the type of fruit. A serving of 15 grams of carbs comes from half an apple or banana, 3/4 cup blueberries, 1 cup honeydew melon cubed, 1/8 cup raisins, etc.
A food’s glycemic index (GI), on the other hand, measures how it will impact your blood sugar. Low-GI foods raise blood sugar slowly. High-GI foods raise it quickly. A low-GI diet can help you manage your blood sugar levels. However, they may not always be healthy for you. Brown rice and candies can both have the same GI value. However, both have a different impact on your blood glucose level and overall health as well.
A lot of low-GI food and a small amount of high-GI food – both have a similar impact on the blood glucose level of people living with diabetes. Thus, in addition to the GI number, looking at the glycemic load (GL) of any food is important. GL takes portion size into account and provides comprehensive information on a particular food and its carbohydrate content. An orange, for instance, has a GI of 52 but a low glycemic load of 4.4. On the other hand, a candy bar with a GI of 55 may have a GL of 22.1, which is high
So, what’s the best fruit for diabetes? Fruit juices, for example, can be bad for diabetics, whereas whole fruits, such as apple, guava, citrus, and apricots, can have many positive effects on your blood sugar and overall health, reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and more. This article discusses five nutrient-dense foods that you can eat if you have diabetes or prediabetes.
5 Nutrient-dense Fruits for Diabetes and Prediabetes
Eating fruits whole, in their natural form is the key to managing uncontrolled blood glucose. Nevertheless, fruit sugar is still sugar and should be counted as a part of your daily carbohydrate intake.
Apple: The list of diabetes-friendly fruits starts with the apple, a fruit found in most parts of the world. According to the USDA, one medium-sized apple (200 g) provides just 104 calories and 27 g of carbs. Apples are also loaded with fiber (4 g in one medium apple), and vitamin C. Apples rank relatively low on both GI and GL scales, so their impact on blood sugar is minimal. A 2016 study showed that apple polyphenols, the phytochemicals found in the skin of the fruit, could improve insulin resistance in animal models. One 2017 review noted that several animal models as well as a limited number of human studies have shown that polyphenols inhibit hyperglycemia and improve insulin sensitivity and acute insulin secretion. However, there is a lack of controlled clinical trials on humans to substantiate this claim. Apples do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels, but they do contain carbohydrates. If you’re counting carbs, keep in mind that an apple contains 27 grams of carbs.
Guava: Guavas are fruity tropical and subtropical trees that are highly nutritious, delicious, and given the title of a “superfood” by some nutrition experts. Guava is high in fiber and vitamin C, low-fat, and cholesterol-free. There are 112 calories and 23 grams of carbs in a full 1-cup serving of guavas. Carbs are mostly natural sugar (14.7 grams), but fiber makes up almost 9 grams. Guava does not have starch. An analysis of the glycemic index of guava found it to be around 33 for subjects with type 2 diabetes and 31 for healthy subjects, with no significant difference between the two groups. The results of one RCT suggested that guava fruit without peel was more effective at lowering blood sugar, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). In addition, guava increased the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), commonly referred to as “good cholesterol”.
Orange: Oranges are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a superb source of nutrition. The citrus fruit, when consumed in moderation, is perfectly healthy for diabetics. With a GI of 40 and GL of 5, oranges are an excellent choice for those trying to control their blood sugar levels. A 100 g orange contains 4 grams of dietary fiber, a nutrient essential to diabetics. A meta-analysis of 15 clinical studies conducted in 2012 found fiber supplementation for type 2 diabetes mellitus can reduce fasting blood glucose and HbA1c. According to the study, fiber should be encouraged as a disease management strategy among patients with type 2 diabetes. Besides these, a medium-sized orange provides 91% of your daily vitamin C needs. Oranges also contain flavonoids that are known to reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance, as well as increase insulin sensitivity.
It’s important to realize that while 100% orange juice contains several vitamins and minerals, it lacks fiber, which is essential for blood sugar regulation. In addition, orange juice has a high GI and is often consumed with other carb-heavy foods, which could raise your blood sugar levels. Diabetes patients can also benefit from other citrus fruits such as grapefruit or sweet lime
Pears: Foods rich in essential nutrients, such as pears, fight inflammation, reduce blood sugar levels, and aid digestion. A medium-sized pear contains 101 calories, 27 g of carbohydrates, 5.5 g of fiber (18% of your daily fiber need), 206 mg of potassium, 7.65 g of vitamin C, and multiple antioxidants, notes the USDA Food Data. Pears have a glycemic index ranging from 20 to 49, making them low-GI food. The health benefits of pears have been studied extensively, particularly those related to diabetes or those at risk for the disease. A 2012 study of a large population found that eating anthocyanin-rich fruit such as pears may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that consuming apples and pears reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 18% in a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies from 2017. However, it’s important to eat pears whole. A significant amount of nutrition is obtained from the skin and peeling can decrease the amount of phonologic and ascorbic acids by 25%
Berries: No matter what kind of berry you enjoy, you’re free to indulge. Berries are low-GI. Fresh strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries all score below 40 which makes them ideal for people living with diabetes. The sugar content of one cup of raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry is 5 g, 7 g, and 7 g, respectively. Blueberries, on the other hand, have a GI value of 53 and a GL value of 6.4, making them ideal for controlling blood sugar levels. In a 2010 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, blueberry smoothies improved insulin sensitivity in obese adults with prediabetes. A study that assessed the benefits of dietary berries (whether fresh, frozen or processed) on insulin resistance and biomarkers of type 2 diabetes in humans suggests that berries are increasingly important in dietary strategies for the prevention of diabetes and its complications.
How to Make Fruits a Part of Your Healthful Diet?
Taking small steps can have a big impact on your blood sugar levels. Here are a few tips for healthy fruit consumption:
- Eat whole, with skin to ensure optimum nutrition.
- Pay attention to dried fruit portion size. The carb content of two tablespoons of raisins is the same as that of an apple.
- Limit or avoid your fruit juice intake. Unlike whole fruits, fruit juices are high in simple carbs, lack fiber, and don’t provide prevention against blood sugar spikes. Multiple research studies found a potential link between drinking a high amount of fruit juice and an elevated risk of diabetes type 2.
- Pick fresh or frozen fruits whenever possible. Fresh fruit is lower in carbs than processed fruits and canned fruit in sugar syrup. Make sure to read labels on dried and processed fruits. Many have added sugar.
The take-home message
Healthy and nutritious fruits should be a part of our daily diet. Fruits contain more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than sugary, processed snacks. Because fiber-rich foods slow digestion, your blood sugar won’t spike as quickly after eating fruit. People with uncontrolled diabetes and those at risk of developing diabetes should choose fruits with low GI and GL. Seasonal fruits with a high GI can be enjoyed occasionally, though. The key is to keep moderation in mind. Seek advice from your nutritionist if you are unsure of how much to eat.