Every season, Mother Nature hooks us up with a new assortment of fresh fruits to add to our grocery carts and Amazon Fresh orders. Fruit, of course, is a healthy snack—and the US Department of Agriculture recommends eating between one to two cups per day, depending on your age. Yet some of the most popular fruits—like bananas (about 18 grams of sugar per cup) and grapes (20 grams per serving)—pack a lot of sugar. Ditto tropics-born favorites like mango (23 grams per cup) and pineapple (16 grams per cup). Which can be an issue if you’re on the keto diet or are otherwise looking to watch your blood sugar levels.
Before you freak out about the sugar in fruit, Katrin Lee, MS, RD, founder of Simply Nutrition NYC, recommends looking at the rest of the nutrition facts to get a better idea of how your body will respond. “Any fruits that have other major nutrients, like protein, fiber, or good fats will cause your blood sugar to spike slower because you’re also working to digest the other nutrients,” Lee explains. While your body reacts to sugar the same, whether it comes from a packet or a pineapple, eating the nutrient-dense food is always the better option.
Plus, “most fruit is actually considered low on the glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t raise your blood sugar as much as other carbohydrates,” adds Rebekah Blakely, RDN, registered nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe.
To help guide your grocery shopping endeavors, here are some low-sugar fruits dietitians love that are nutrient-rich and full of benefits (besides their incredible taste, of course).
Sugar: 8 grams per cup
We’re berry, er very, pleased to inform you that you can whip up a dairy-free milkshake with said cup of strawberries. They’re also rich in vitamin C and potassium, which are good for your skin, immune system, and bones. Eating those berries straight will get you five grams of fiber, too.
Another way to use strawberries—this healthy version of shortcake:
Sugar: 5 grams per cup
Raspberries pair their low sugar content with a relatively high load of fiber: eight grams of fiber per cup. Sounds like a win for your taste buds and your digestive system to me.
Sugar: 13 grams per cup (sliced)
Everyone (not just the cast of Call Me By Your Name) deserves a summer fling with peaches. So bite through the skin of this fuzzy fruit and earn a bonus of two grams of fiber, along with vitamins A and C and calcium.
Sugar: 7 grams per cup
Blackberries pack almost eight grams of fiber per cup, so add them to your morning parfait for a digestively perfect breakfast.
Can’t say I’ve ever seen someone eat a lemon straight (unless they’re in a viral video), but the juice of lemons and limes are necessary components of many a mixed drink. Plus, you just can’t beat a salad dressing that includes fresh citrus.
In case there was any question in your mind, the queen of all healthy fats also rules the fruit kingdom. It’s both super low in sugar and high in fiber (three grams in just a third of the fruit). Basically, it’s the healthy fat’s world and we’re all just living in it.
With about two grams of fiber per cup-size portion, this tart morning fave offers some of the major nutritional components you need to kickstart your day (and your digestion). So grab a spoon or make yourself some freshly-squeezed juice.
Sugar: 11 grams per cup
ICYMI, mulberries are the under-hyped fruit that’s a favorite of celebrity Kristen Bell. They’re also rich in antioxidants and apparently taste great tossed into sparkling water. Sold.
Additional reporting by Amy Marturana and Jennifer Kass.
This article was originally posted on June 16, 2011. It was updated on June 24, 2019.
Now! Let’s talk vegetables. Here’s how to make a milkshake that includes two whole servings of veggies, and a definitive ranking of the very best sweet potato, kale, and beet chips on the market.