Fruit is great but beware of the sugar

There is no doubt that many fruit have exceptional nutritive qualities. However, some are also quite high in sugar and may not be the best choices for anyone who is trying to reduce their caloric or sugar load.

This is especially true for those with sugar challenges such as diabetes or hypoglycemia, also important if you are trying to keep your body fat at a reasonable level. This is because a rapid increase in blood sugar without a balancing caloric expenditure (movement) leads to an increased fat deposition.

Here in a decreasing order are the most-sugar laden fruit and a little bit of info about each one.

w Mangoes are among the most delicious fruit grown, but they have about 45 grams of sugar per large fruit. That is a huge load and although there are plenty of vitamins and some fiber in mangoes, it is likely best to add only a few slices to a fruit cup or on top of a salad rather than consuming the whole fruit at any given time.

w A cup of grapes has about 23 grams of sugar, and yes, of course it is a naturally occurring sugar but it is still a heavy sugar load at a given time. Better to slice some unto a salad or into a fruit cup with other fruit so they can be enjoyed but moderated by other lower sugar choices.

w One medium-sized pear has about 17 grams of sugar as well as some good fiber. Again, a way to enjoy the flavor and the nutrients without going overboard on the sugar load is to cut a few slices into some salad or some yogurt or a fruit cup.

w Watermelon has about 17 grams of sugar in a medium slice as well as a lot of water and electrolytes, which makes it a perfect refreshing treat in the summer time. You can dilute the sugar impact of watermelon by slicing in some cantaloupe and making a melon fruit cup. Cantaloupe has only 5 grams of sugar in a medium slice and only 23 calories. You could pack in some protein by placing your melon slices or cubes on low fat cottage cheese and enjoying a light refreshing rehydrating treat.

w Figs are delicious and have a good amount of fiber in them but they also have about 16 grams of sugar in just two. Having your figs paired with some goat cheese or cutting them up into a salad allows you to enjoy their unique flavor and level out the sugar impact. If they are dehydrated, the sugar impact is worse since per volume the sugar in heightened in any dried fruit.

w A medium banana has about 14 grams of sugar which getting down into the moderate range. However, the sugar can be lowered again by slicing the fruit over low sugar, fiber rich cereal or incorporating a banana into your whole grain, low fat peanut butter sandwich.

w An avocado is a fruit and it is low sugar having only a half a gram of sugar, but a medium avocado has about 400 calories and almost all of them come from fat. This another fruit to work into recipes or salads rather than eating the whole fruit, not because of the sugar load but because of the fat.

w Guavas have only about 5 calories each and they have about 3 grams of fiber. The fiber helps moderate the amount of sugar and makes the fruit a good low glycemic choice. The glycemic index of a food registers how much it increases the blood sugar. Foods or combinations of foods that contain abundant fiber, or protein are usually good choices because those two nutrients take time to digest and balance out the impact of any sugar. Fat does this too but although fat lowers the glycemic index it is very high in calories and is not a weight watchers friend.

w Raspberries have 8 grams of fiber per cup and only 5 grams or fiber, and what could taste better than raspberries? My personal favorite!

w Another fruit that we are lucky to have locally and that is low in sugar is papaya. Half of a small one has only 6 grams of sugar and it is a delicious fruit to add to a fruit salad to lower the sugar level. You can also fill the cavity of the papaya with cottage cheese or yogurt or a shrimp salad with lime dressing to lower the sugar effect.

w Strawberries have 7 grams per cup, and a good amount of fiber making them a good low calorie treat, and colorful addition to salad, of fruit salad.

Fruit is good for you because of all the vitamins, fiber, minerals and water they contain. They are always a better choice for dessert than baking or processed treats or candy, however, some fruit are better choices than others and now you know.


Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser, behavior change specialist. She can be reached at, 212-8119 cell/text and

  1. Stan Lake January 7, 2018 6:50 am Reply

    Glycemic Index or GI can be a bit controversial as it was originally created as a research tool and not meant as a dietary guide. Foods have different GIs depending on how fast they break down during digestion which means how quickly they raise blood sugar levels after eating. M&Ms peanut candy has a low GI and watermelon has a high GI but that doesn’t mean we should stop eating watermelon and just munch on M&Ms, we have to be sensible about our food choices. The ranking system also doesn’t account for the amount of food in a serving. Carrots have a high GI but that is based on a one and a half pound serving! A more accurate ranking is Glycemic Load which does take into account portion sizes and ranks food on how they affect blood glucose levels.

    The preparation of food can also change the GI or GL. Carrots for instance have a lot of natural sugar in them but that is balanced out by amount of fiber in them so they have a low GL. But if you take those same carrots and juice them, suddenly you have a “healthy” drink that will jolt your digestive system with a flood of glucose similar to eating spoonful’s of honey.

    Hawaii has a relatively low incidence of diabetes thanks in part to our active lifestyles. Smart food choices can help us maintain our good health. The abundance of fresh fruit is a better choice than any processed foods but all good things in moderation. Anyone with glucose health concerns would be wise to eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned, eat more beans and peas and limit refined grains such as our beloved white rice. A healthy lifestyle now means less health care later.

  2. Charlie Chimknee January 8, 2018 9:02 am Reply

    Bravo to Jane Riley, Ed.D,

    Very much mahalos.

    I just read another food label, frozen chicken, it had an amazingly 8 kinds of sugars added…8…unbelievable.

    I’ll stick to all natural fruit smoothies.


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