What are low sugar fruits for diabetics list? People with diabetes like to eat healthy. This isn’t such a bad idea even if you’re not diabetic, but as a diabetic you need to watch what you eat. Fruits for diabetics are very important in blood sugar management. As diabetics it is crucial that we control our blood sugars if we want to keep a normal lifestyle. Eating healthy foods like fruits not only is good for our physical health but also for our mental health, as well.
The Worst Fruits for People With Diabetes (and the Best)
People with diabetes don’t need to avoid all fruit; they just need to make smart choices.
There is a misconception that people with diabetes cannot eat fruit. Yes, fruit does contain natural sugars. But just because you have diabetes does not mean you need to avoid fruit. It just means you need to make better choices on what fruit (and how much) you eat.
Fruit, like many other foods, can raise blood sugar. Frequent blood sugar spikes can elevate your A1C, a measure of how high your blood sugar is on average. The higher the A1C level, the less well your body is managing the condition.
But fruit doesn’t have to be off the table if you’re a person with diabetes. Indeed, fruit can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. It’s just important for people with diabetes to pick the best fruits for them, and to eat some others less frequently.
We spoke to two dietitians to get the scoop on the best and worst fruits for people with diabetes.
Can People With Diabetes Eat Fruit?
“All fruits have healthy qualities, even if you have diabetes,” says Zoe Fienman, RD LDN CDE, a registered dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition. “They are filled with fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body needs.”
What identifies a fruit as better or worse is really the amount of sugar that fruit has and where it lies on the glycemic index. An important tool for people with diabetes, the glycemic index refers to the rate at which food is digested and absorbed into the blood stream.
“If it’s higher, that means that food breaks down more quickly which can cause a spike in blood sugar more rapidly,” Fienman says. That being said, like with all foods, people may digest or react to something differently. One person with diabetes may be able to tolerate a banana without a major spike in sugars, and others may have to avoid them altogether.
Of course, always consult your doctor or a registered dietitian when figuring out a diet that is right for managing diabetes and your blood sugar.
The Worst Fruits for People With Diabetes
Serving size is important for all fruits, especially those high on the glycemic index. Fienman recommends thinking about the serving size of a whole fruit (like an apple) to the size of a tennis ball and cut up fruit to a ½ cup. Even in these small servings, some fruits have more natural sugars and may spike blood sugar longer.
These fruits contain a high amount of natural sugars:
Skip the canned fruit.
Canned fruits and those cute little fruit cocktail cups may be convenient and inexpensive, but they aren’t so good for you.
“Those canned in heavy or light syrup are not an ideal choice for persons with diabetes,” says Kim Rose, RD and a certified diabetes care and education specialist. “This is because syrup-laden fruits contain added sugar that may be too much for the body to handle.”
Be careful with dried fruits.
Drying fruit concentrates all of the yummy fruit flavor into one smaller bite, but it also concentrates many of the sugars. Even a small amount of dried fruit can put you over the edge.
Be careful to read dried fruit labels; many of them pack on the added sugars. Some are even sweetened, making the sugar problem worse. If you must have dried fruit, keep the quantities small. Rose recommends dates, figs, and prunes because they are lower on the glycemic index.
Juices and smoothies can be tricky.
Many store-bought juices — orange, apple, even green juices — sneakily add extra sugars, so you’ll want to avoid those, too. Even juices or smoothies you make at home can require a lot of fruit for one glass (a small juice can often have two to three oranges), so it isn’t always the best option for people with diabetes. If you want to have a smoothie, try adding in mostly vegetables and something like a half of a banana for sweetness.
The Best Fruits for People With Diabetes
Two to three servings of fruit a day is recommended, and that can is true for people with diabetes, too.
“If you combine fruit with a fat or protein, it will help you feel fuller and help with that portion control,” Fienman says.
Here are some beneficial fruits that are not only lower on the glycemic index, but also pack a punch with other vitamins and minerals:
- berries — Both citrus and berries are recommended as superfoods by the American Diabetes Association.
- apples — High fiber fruits like apples and pears help to slow a spike in blood sugar, Rose says
Best Low-Sugar Fruits
Watching your sugar intake is a good idea, but taming your sweet tooth can be an incredibly difficult feat.
Perhaps you’ve already cut out processed sugars, but didn’t realize how much sugar is contained in fruit. Or maybe you live with diabetes and want to know which fruits will have the least impact on your blood sugar.
While fruit also contains lots of other healthy nutrients, some varieties are higher in sugar than others. Learn which fruits are lowest in sugar content so you can satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking the sugar bank.
1. Lemons (and limes)
High in vitamin C, lemons and their lime green counterparts are fairly sour fruits. They don’t contain much sugar (only a gram or two per lemonTrusted Source or limeTrusted Source) and are the perfect addition to a glass of water to help curb your appetite.
With only five gramsTrusted Source — a bit more than a teaspoon — of sugar per cup, and lots of fiber to help fill you up, raspberries are one of several amazing berries to make the list.
Strawberries are surprisingly low in sugar considering they taste so sweet and delicious. One cup of raw strawberries has about seven gramsTrusted Source of sugar, along with over 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
Blackberries also only have seven gramsTrusted Source of sugar per cup. You don’t have to feel guilty snacking on these dark colored berries. As a bonus, they’re also high in antioxidants as well as fiber.
These odd fuzzy green-fleshed fruits are technically considered a berry too. Kiwis (or kiwifruits) are rich in vitamin C and low in sugar — with just six gramsTrusted Source per kiwi. You can find kiwis all year-round at the grocery store.
Another citrus fruit to make the list is grapefruit. While grapefruits certainly don’t taste as sweet as a grape, they make for a great breakfast with only nine gramsTrusted Source of sugar in half of a medium-sized grapefruit.
While not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of fruit, avocados are indeed fruits, and naturally low in sugar. An entire raw avocado only has about one gramTrusted Source of sugar. What avocados do have a lot of are healthy fats, which will help keep you satiated.
Watermelons are the iconic summer fruit. They may seem like a treat, but they’re low in sugar. A whole cup of diced up watermelon has under 10 gramsTrusted Source of sugar. A bonus of eating watermelon is it’s also a great source of iron.
Cantaloupes owe their orange color to a high vitamin A content. A cup of this delicious melon contains less than 13 gramsTrusted Source of sugar. This may be a bit higher than other fruits, but keep in mind that a 12 ounce can of soda has nearly 40 grams of sugar, and very little nutritional value.
Oranges are another great way to enjoy a sweet snack without all the calories and sugar, while also boosting your Vitamin C intake. A typical naval orange has about 12 gramsTrusted Source of sugar per fruit and less than 70 calories.
Peaches can be incredibly sweet, but at less than 13Trusted Source grams of sugar in a medium-sized fruit, they can still be considered low in sugar for a fruit.
Low-Sugar Fruits for Low-Carb Diets
There is a lot of confusion around fruit and it’s natural sugars. If you follow a low carbohydrate diet or have diabetes you may have been told that you can’t eat fruit or that fruit is okay because the sugars are natural. The truth is that while the sugars in fruit are natural, how they affect blood sugar will depend on a variety of factors including, what they are eaten with and whether or not you have diabetes.
For instance, are you counting carbs or taking note of the glycemic index or glycemic load of the foods you eat? Knowing which fruits are naturally lower in sugar can help you make choices that fit best with your individual dietary needs.
Certain fruits are considered to be lower in sugar because you can have a larger portion for a smaller amount of carbohydrate and sugar. One serving of fruit has about 15 grams of carbohydrate. A serving is one small apple (the size of a tennis ball), a cup of berries, two whole kiwifruit, or half a medium-sized banana. So fruits like berries can be eaten in larger portions for the same amount of carbohydrate, but less sugar.
Natural Sugar in Fruit
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults eat two cups of fruit or fruit juice or a half-cup of dried fruit per day.1 How much fruit you eat may differ if you are following a specific low carb meal plan or if you counting or modifying your carbohydrate intake because of diabetes.
Most fruits have a low glycemic index (GI) due to the amount of fiber they contain and because their sugar is mostly fructose. However, dried fruit (such as raisins, dates, and sweetened cranberries), melons, and pineapples have a medium GI value. Sweetened dried fruits have an even higher GI value.
Fruits aren’t just packed with nutrition, they’re also versatile and tasty. With their natural sweetness, fruits are a fantastic way to satisfy a craving for sweets. In fact, those lowest in sugar have some of the highest nutritional values, plus antioxidants and other phytonutrients.
6 Low-Sugar Fruits for Low-Carb Diets
Use these rules of thumb for a quick way to assess the sugar content of your favorite types of fruit. The fruits listed below are ranked from lowest to highest sugar content.
- Berries: Generally the fruits lowest in sugar, berries are also among the highest in fiber, as well as antioxidants and other nutrients. One cup of raspberries contains 14.7 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of fiber. Together with lemon and lime, which are also among the lowest-sugar fruits, berries aren’t just for eating—they can also add flavor to water.
- Summer fruits: Melons, peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, and kiwis are great on their own or thrown together in a fruit salad.
- Winter fruits: Apples, pears, and sweet citrus fruit such as oranges are moderate in sugars. These fruits can be eaten as-is or used to top yogurt.
- Tropical fruits: Pineapple, pomegranates, mangoes, bananas, and fresh figs are high in sugar. Guava and papaya are a bit lower. These fruits can be easily sliced and added to a number of savory and sweet meals.
- Dried fruit: Dates, raisins, apricots, prunes, figs, and most other dried fruits are extremely high in sugar. Dried cranberries and blueberries would be lower, but sugar is typically added to combat the berries’ natural tartness. You’ll find dried fruit most often in granola, cereal, or trail mixes—all of which tend to be high-carb.
Sugar in Fruit (Low to High)
Here’s a deeper dive into popular low-carb fruit, as well as ways you can easily incorporate them into your eating plan. Keep in mind that for sugar and carb content, some values are per cup while others are per whole fruit.
- Lime (1.1 grams of sugar, 7 grams of carb, and 1.9 grams of fiber per fruit) and lemon (1.5 grams of sugar, 5.4 grams of carb, and 1.6 grams of fiber per fruit): These are rarely eaten on their own. You’ll typically use these fruits juiced and sweetened. Try adding a slice to your water or a squeeze of juice to add tartness to a dish.
- Rhubarb (1.3 grams of sugar, 5.5 grams of carb, and 2.2 grams of fiber per cup): You’re unlikely to find unsweetened rhubarb, so check the label before you assume what you are eating is low in sugar. If you prepare rhubarb yourself, you can adjust the amount of added sugar or artificial sweetener.
- Apricot (3.2 grams of sugar, 3.8 grams of carb, and 0.7 grams of fiber per one small apricot): Apricots are available fresh in spring and early summer. You can enjoy them whole, skin and all. Be sure to watch your portions of dried apricots, however, as they shrink when dried.
- Cranberries (3.8 grams of sugar, 12 grams of carbs, and 3.6 grams of fiber per cup, fresh): While very low in sugar naturally, be aware that they are usually sweetened when dried or used in a recipe.
- Guava (4.9 grams of sugar, 7.9 grams of carb, and 3 grams of fiber per fruit): You can slice and eat guavas, including the rind. Some people enjoy dipping them in salty sauces. They are the low-sugar exception to generally sugary tropical fruits.
- Raspberries (5.4 grams of sugar, 14.7 grams of carb, and 8 grams of fiber per cup): Nature’s gift for those who want a low-sugar fruit, you can enjoy raspberries in every way. Eat a handful by themselves or use as a topping or ingredient. You can get them fresh in summer or find them frozen year-round.
- Kiwifruit (6.2 grams of sugar, 10.1 grams of carb, and 2.1 grams of fiber per kiwi): Kiwis have a mild flavor but add lovely color to a fruit salad. Also, you can eat the seeds and skin.
- Figs (6.5 grams of sugar, 7.7 grams of carb, and 1.2 grams of fiber per small fig): Note that these figures are for fresh figs. It may be harder to estimate for dried figs of different varieties, which can have 5 to 12 grams of sugar per fig.
- Blackberries (7 grams of sugar, 13.8 grams of carbs, and 7.6 grams of fiber per cup) and strawberries (7.4 grams of sugar, 11.7 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fiber per cup): While they have a little more sugar than raspberries, both of these berries still make excellent choices for a snack, a fruit salad, or an ingredient in a smoothie, sauce, or dessert.
- Tangerines (8 grams of sugar, 10.1 grams of carb, and 1.3 grams of fiber per medium fruit): These citrus fruits have less sugar than oranges and are easy to section for fruit salads. Tangerines are also portable, making them good additions to packed lunches and snacks.
- Grapefruit (8.5 grams of sugar, 13 grams of carb, and 2 grams of fiber per half fresh grapefruit): You can enjoy fresh grapefruit in a fruit salad or by itself, adjusting the amount of sugar or sweetener you add.
- Watermelon (9.5 grams of sugar, 11.6 grams of carbs, and 0.6 grams of fiber per cup): While there’s nothing like a refreshing slice of watermelon on a summer’s day, the sugar content is a little high compared to other fruit. But since watermelon contains a lot of water, one serving can be filling.
- Nectarines (11 grams of sugar, 15 grams of carbs, and 2.4 grams of fiber per medium fruit): Nectarines are tastiest when ripe and are a good source of fiber.
- Peaches (11 grams of sugar, 12 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of fiber per small fruit): The sweet, soft fruit can be eaten on its own but also suits many dishes, including desserts, ice pops, smoothies, and sauces.
- Papaya (11 grams of sugar, 16 grams of carb, and 2.5 grams of fiber in a cup of sliced fruit): Of the tropical fruits, papaya is among the lowest in sugar.
- Cantaloupe (12 grams of sugar, 13 grams of carb, and 1 gram of fiber per cup): This is a great fruit to enjoy by itself or in a fruit salad. They are the lowest in sugar of the melons.
- Oranges (12.2 grams of sugar, 15.4 grams of carbs, and 3.1 grams of fiber per medium fruit): With its tough outer skin, the fruit holds up well in your bag until you’re ready to peel and eat as a quick, on-the-go snack.
- Honeydew (14 grams of sugar, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.4 grams of fiber per cup of honeydew balls): Bites of honeydew make a nice addition to a fruit salad or can be popped as a snack by themselves.
- Bananas (14.4 grams of sugar, 27 grams of carbs, and 3.1 grams of fiber per medium banana): This favorite is tasty, and convenient, but keep in mind that bananas are higher in sugar and carbs than other options.
- Blueberries (15 grams of sugar, 21 grams of carb, and 3.6 grams of fiber per cup): While blueberries are higher in sugar than other berries, they’re packed with a powerful blend of antioxidants.
- Grapes (15 grams of sugar, 16 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fiber per cup): If you’re watching your sugar intake, keep an eye on serving size. Grapes make a refreshing snack, but it’s easy to lose track of portions.
- Pineapple (16.3 grams of sugar, 22 grams of carb, and 2.3 grams of fiber per cup): As a tropical fruit, pineapple is higher in sugar than other options, but it’s also a rich source of thiamin and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Pears (17 grams of sugar, 27 grams of carbs, and 5.5 grams of fiber per medium fruit): The winter fruit is relatively high in sugar and carbs but is a good dietary source of vitamin C.
- Cherries (17.7 grams of sugar, 22 grams of carb, and 3 grams of fiber per cup): Ripe fresh cherries are a delight in the summer, but if you’re limiting sugar you’ll want to watch your portions.
- Apples (19 grams of sugar, 25 grams of carbs, and 4.4 grams of fiber per medium fruit): Apples make easy snacks and meal additions but are higher in sugar than equally convenient tangerines or oranges.
- Pomegranates (21 grams of sugar, 29 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of fiber per medium pomegranate): While the whole fruit adds a lot of sugar to your intake, if you limit the portion to 1 ounce you can reduce sugar and carb consumption while still enjoying the fruit.
- Mangoes (22.5 grams of sugar, 24.7 grams of carbs, and 2.6 grams of fiber per cup, sliced): Given how high mangoes are in sugar and carbs, this tropical fruit is best enjoyed on occasion if you’re following a low-carb eating plan or watching your sugar. In moderation, mangoes are an excellent source of fiber and several phytonutrients.
- Dried fruits like prunes (18.1 grams of sugar, 30.4 grams of carbs, and 3.4 grams of fiber in five prunes), raisins (18.5 grams of sugar, 22 grams of carbs, and 1.2 grams of fiber per ounce) and dates (4 grams of sugar, 5.3 grams of carbs, and 0.6 grams of fiber in one date) are very high in sugar. They’re most often encountered in trail mix, granola bars, and cereals, which can also be high in added sugars. Read nutrition labels carefully and check the serving size if you’re considering including these options in your eating plan.
Fruit and Low-Carb Diets
If you’re on a low-carb eating plan, keep in mind that while some popular plans consider the glycemic index or glycemic load of foods (South Beach, Zone), others only take the amount of carbohydrate into consideration (Protein Power).
- 20 grams of carbohydrates or less: At less than 20 grams of carbohydrate per day, you will likely be skipping fruit or substituting it rarely for other items in your diet. Concentrate on getting your nutrients from vegetables. Diets such as Atkins and South Beach don’t allow fruit in the first phase.
- 20-50 grams of carbohydrates: Eating plans that allow 20 to 50 grams of carbs daily have room for about one fruit serving per day.
- 50-100 grams of carbohydrates: If your eating plan allows 50 to 100 grams of carbs per day, you may be able to follow the FDA guidelines for two fruit servings a day, as long as you limit other sources of carbs.
Other popular plans, like the Paleo diet and Whole30, don’t place a limit on fruit. While it’s not necessarily a low-carb diet, if you’re using Weight Watchers, you also won’t have to limit your fruit intake.
In general, if you are following a low-carb diet, try to eat fruits that are low in sugar.
Fruit and Diabetes
Your fruit choices when you have diabetes will depend on the type of diet you’re following. If you are counting carbohydrates, for example, you’d want to know that 1/2 cup of any frozen or canned fruit has about 15 grams of carbohydrate. For the same amount of carbohydrate, you could enjoy 3/4 to 1 whole cup of fresh berries or melon.
If you are using the plate method, add a small piece of whole fruit or 1/2 cup of fruit salad to your plate. When using the glycemic index (GI) to guide your food choices, keep in mind that most fruits have a low GI and are encouraged. However, melons, pineapples, and dried fruits have medium values on the GI index, so keep an eye on portion size.
Your fruit choices when you have diabetes will depend on the type of diet you’re following. If you are counting carbohydrates, for example, you’d want to know that 1/2 cup of any frozen or canned fruit has about 15 grams of carbohydrate. For the same amount of carbohydrate, you could enjoy 3/4 to 1 whole cup of fresh berries or melon or 17 small grapes