With so much anti-sugar buzz bouncing around these days, you’ve probably already been making the effort to nix the added sweet stuff that lurks in salad dressings, granola bars, and coffee shop drinks (that’s a hard one, we get it). Heck, you’ve maybe even considered cutting back on fruit—especially if you’re intrigued by the whole low-carb and keto scene. After all, sugar fast-tracks you to diabetes and obesity, right?
While too much sugar can be a major problem for your health for a number of different reasons, it’s not that it’s evil, case closed, no question. Of course, where the sugar in your diet comes from is incredibly important. And though highly-processed sweets and added sugar (think baked goods, candy, and all sorts of packaged snacks) often offer little nutritional value in those grams of sweetness, fruit packs tons of other nutrients, like vitamins and fiber—and deserves a spot in your grocery cart.
Naturally, there are a couple of caveats to keep in mind here.
First: Whole fruit and fruit juice are not one and the same. “It’s always better to eat your fruits rather than drink them,” says Karen Cooney, M.A., C.N., C.H.H.C., a nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe. Since they’ve been stripped of fiber, fruit juices spike your blood sugar. They also contain significantly more calories and sugar per serving than whole fruit.
And second: You’ll also want to be particularly mindful about dried fruit. “When you compare fresh and dried fruit by volume, you’ll always find more sugar in the dried fruit,” Cooney says. “While one cup of grapes has about 15 grams of sugar, one cup of raisins has a shocking 116 grams.”
Clearly, whole fruit (whether fresh or frozen) is the way to go. Even then, it’s still helpful to have a sense of the amount of sugar in your favorite varieties—especially if you want to enjoy some natural sweetness while on a low-carb or keto diet or have specific health goals or concerns that make monitoring sugar a top priority.
To give you a quick overview, we consulted with nutrition pros to break down which fruits are the highest—and the lowest—in sugar.
The Fruits Highest In Sugar
So, which varieties of fruit contain the highest amounts of the sweet stuff? Here are the five popular fruits that pack the most sugar, according to The Vitamin Shoppe dietitian Brittany Michels, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N.
Sugar content: 24 grams per cup of slices
This tropical fruit might be high in sugar, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s devoid of nutrition. Sweet mango provides a whole slew of important vitamins, plus the mineral potassium. Try it in this tasty vanilla mango smoothie recipe (that just so happens to support your body’s detoxification processes).
Sugar content: 23.8 grams per cup of seeds
Pomegranate may not be as trendy as it was a few years ago (remember when pomegranate juice and packets of those flavor-filled little seeds were everywhere?) but it’s still a powerhouse of a fruit to add to your plate—as long as you’re not being super-tight on sugar. Try sprinkling the seeds onto salads and plain yogurt for a pleasant burst of sweetness.
Sugar content: 21 grams per cup, sections
Also provide: fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium
These itty-bitty orange fruits make for easy grab-and-go snacks, even if they do pack more sugar than other options out there. You’ll get plenty of good-for-you vitamins and minerals in each serving—as well as some fiber—though.
4. Sweet Cherries
Sugar content: 20 grams per one cup, pitted
Also provide: fiber, vitamin C, potassium, copper, manganese
You might associate sweet cherries with summertime, but you can find them in the freezer aisle year-round. Add them to oatmeal or yogurt parfaits—or try blending frozen ones into smoothies—for a boost of fiber, the antioxidant vitamin C, and some key minerals.
Sugar content: 18 grams per cup, slices
Also provide: fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, B6 and folate, pantothenic acid), magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese
Bananas often get called out for their high sugar content—but they’re actually not as loaded with the sweet stuff as some other popular varieties of fruit out there. You know ‘naners are good for magnesium and potassium, and they also offer fiber and a handful of other vitamins and minerals. You can’t go wrong snacking on banana with peanut butter or blending it up frozen to make your own nice cream.
The Fruits Lowest In Sugar
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find a number of delicious fruits with surprisingly low sugar content—many of which are go-to’s for low-carb and keto eaters.
Sugar count: 0.7 grams per one cup of slices
Also provides: vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin E, potassium, lutein, fiber
Yes, avocado is technically a fruit! The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Karen Cooney, M.A., C.N., C.H.H.C., loves stuffing avocado halves with chicken salad made with celery, red onion, and yogurt.
Sugar count: 5 grams per one cup
Also provide: fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese
Subtly sweet raspberries can be expensive (and hard to find!) when not in season, but they’re often included in packages of frozen mixed berries—and a go-to add-in for all of your favorite superfood smoothies.
Sugar content: 7 grams per one cup
Also provide: fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, niacin, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese
Like raspberries, blackberries are subtly sweet and easiest to find fresh in the summer months. Whether you get them from the produce or freezer aisle, Cooney recommends cooking them down in a saucepan to make berry syrup that you can drizzle on protein pancakes for some good-for-you sweetness.
Sugar content: 7 grams per one cup
Also provide: fiber, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, manganese
Sliced strawberries feel super-nostalgic in your favorite cereal—and, of course, you can never go wrong by covering them in chocolate. (Cooney recommends going for dark chocolate to keep your sweet treat as nutritious as possible.) Simply melt some chocolate down in a pan (or the microwave), dunk your berries, and refrigerate them on a plate until that chocolate hardens up.
Sugar content: 8.6 grams per one cup, pieces
Also provide: fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K
Pears don’t often get the love they deserve, but they make for a great addition to salads (with some pecans and blue cheese, perhaps?) and all sorts of cozy, fall-themed desserts. Mix some into your next oatmeal bowl along with some apples, cinnamon, and honey for a comforting meal.