When you're looking for a super healthy snack option, a serving of fruit is a great choice! However, not all fruits are created equal. While packing in lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, some of your favorites may be higher in sugar than you thought.
Added sugars, including those in your favorite sweet treat or coffee drink, are the big ones to avoid, but natural sugars from fruit can add up, too. Regardless of where the sugar comes from, excessive amounts still have negative health risks, including weight gain, tooth decay, and elevated triglyceride levels, which may contribute to heart disease and high cholesterol.
Americans consume about 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, but the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men. That’s about 30 and 45 grams, respectively. Two cups of fruit is the daily recommended serving from the USDA, but two cups of a high-sugar fruit, such as bananas, will add up to 36 grams of sugar!
>> Read more: Dietary Guidelines Cut Sugar, Give Red Meat A Pass
A diet high in fruits and vegetables is still the best way to help prevent weight gain. Fruit can have almost three times the calories of vegetables, but, comparatively, are still a smart low-calorie choice considering the high water and fiber content to promote feelings of fullness. There is absolutely no need to run from fruit, but take a look at some smart fruit choices below to help reign in your sugar intake.
1. Blueberries: One cup of these antioxidant-rich superfoods contains only 15 grams of sugar. Buy them seasonally in the summer for maximum flavor, or buy them frozen (without sugar) in the offseason. Enjoy raw as a snack or blend them up in our Skinny Blueberry Blast Smoothie.
2. Raspberries: Talk about guilt-free snacking — there are only 5 grams of sugar in one cup of raspberries! Fresh raspberries are high in vitamin C and fiber. These delicate berries are best eaten fresh in the summer, but may be carefully frozen to eat later in the season. Raspberries make a great smoothie, sauce, or light dessert, such as our Skinny Chocolate Stuffed Raspberries.
3. Blackberries: The black sheep, if you will, of the berry family, these less popular relatives of raspberries have only 7 grams of sugar per one cup serving. They have a mid-to-late summer growing season. Also high in vitamin C and antioxidants, add these deep purple berries to yogurt and granola for a satisfying breakfast, or blend into a smoothie.
4. Strawberries: Robust red strawberries have only 7 grams of sugar per cup and are known for their high levels of vitamin C and B complex. Find them seasonally in the late spring through mid summer. Watch out for frozen varieties, as many contain added sugars. Strawberries are good almost any way you slice 'em!
5. Apples: While different apple varieties contain varying amounts of sugar, the ever-popular Granny Smith contains only 10 grams of sugar for a medium sized apple. These perfectly packable, portable fruits are high in fiber to keep you full and aid digestion. Go apple picking in the fall for the freshest fruit selection. Apples are especially good mixed into oatmeal or baked into a bar, like these Autumn Apple Oat Bars.
6. Peaches: If you've ever had a peach at the peak of freshness, you may wonder how they can be considered a low sugar fruit. These deceptively sweet fruits have only 13 grams of sugar in one medium peach. Peaches are a moderate source of vitamins C and A, and are best eaten fresh during the summer months. Avoid canned peaches in high-sugar syrups. Get the skinny on peaches here for more preparation and recipe ideas.
7. Grapefruit: Add this tangy citrus to your fruit arsenal because one serving (half of a medium-sized fruit) contains only 8 grams of sugar. Grapefruit has lots of healthy fiber and vitamin A. Find many varieties of this citrus fruit in season during the colder months. Eat a serving with breakfast as a bright, fresh alternative to orange juice or add to your detox water for a flavor boost!