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It's no secret that fruit is good for you—and much better than a handful of candy or a piece of cake. But some fruit does have higher levels of sugar, which doesn't necessarily mean you have to steer clear of it; it's just something to be aware of when consuming them.
First things first, the sugar in fruit is natural sugar, not added sugar, which is what you should really be worried about (and it's found in candy, soft drinks, juices, baked goods, ice cream, etc.). Nancy Farrell Allen, MS, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says, "The guidelines recommend no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day for a female and no more than nine teaspoons of added sugar per day for a male. If we consider that there are approximately four grams per teaspoon, then that would mean roughly no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day for a female and no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day for a male."
Secondly, while fruit does have sugars, it still has a heck of a lot of nutrients that you need in your diet—and according to the Cleveland Clinic, the amount of fiber in fruit balances the amount of sugar, preventing spikes in blood sugar. "I do not recommend avoiding fruits; instead enjoy every juicy bite!" says Farrell Allen. "Fruits are packed with water and no fat (except for avocados or olives, but their fat is mainly unsaturated). Fruits are rich sources of nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. All of these nutrients support health by lowering the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and obesity."
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So what should you keep in mind when it comes to sugar in fruit? "Adhere to the serving sizes at snack or mealtimes," Farrell recommends. "At snack time, enjoy fruits by pairing them with a protein source. So for example, a pear and a cheese stick; an apple with nut butter; peaches and cottage cheese; berries and Greek yogurt; an orange with almonds, etc." And choosing fruit as your dessert rather than refined sweets is always your best bet.
Ultimately, your consumption of fruit depends on your own dietary or health care needs, and it's something worth discussing with a doctor, nutritionist, or dietician. "For example, diabetics may want to know that many fruits such as apples, cherries, citrus fruits, berries, and peaches rank low on the glycemic index. Bananas rank moderately low. Tropical fruits and melons fall in the low-moderate glycemic range," Farrell Allen says.
When it comes to consuming fruit, fresh is almost always best. Dried, frozen, or canned fruits can have more sugar than their whole and fresh counterparts.
TL;DR: Don't fear fruit—it should be incorporated into your daily diet and is much better for you than other sweet treats. But since knowledge is always power, take a look at which fruits have high amounts of sugar below, based on the food database from the United States Department of Agriculture.
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Measure: 1 cup
Sugars (grams) per measure: 28.94
With one cup of lychee, you'll get 10 mg of calcium. It's also a source of vitamin C.
Measure: 1 cup
Sugars (grams) per measure: 26.43
Passion fruit contains 28 mg of calcium per cup, 821 mg of potassium per cup, and also has a good amount of vitamin C.
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Measure: 1 fruit (2-1/2 inches in diameter)
Sugars (grams) per measure: 21.05
While you can't find them at every grocery store, persimmons are pretty delicious and worth a taste test. They're high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.
Measure: 1 cup, with pits, yields
Sugars (grams) per measure: 17.69
A favorite summer fruit, cherries contain calcium and potassium.
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Measure: 1 cup, sliced
Sugars (grams) per measure: 16.37
Plums contain high levels of potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
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Measure: 1 cup, halves
Sugars (grams) per measure: 14.32
Apricots are packed with vitamin C and potassium. Dried apricots contain a lot of sugar, so opt for the fresh version. Farrell says they're "a nice versatile addition to cooked, baked, stir-fry, or grilled recipes."