Glucose. Fructose. Sucrose. These words all have one major thing in common. They’re types of simple sugars. And unfortunately, a high intake of these sugars are known to induce obesity – a major problem in this country. So, given the amount of simple sugars in fruit, it’s only reasonable to assume eating them regularly would contribute to the obesity epidemic.1
You see, fruit was never meant to be consumed year-round. Before globalization, sweet flavors were really only available during summer and fall.
Here’s why: Ripe fruit tells the body to store fat for winter.
But now, you can get fresh fruit whenever you want it, regardless of the actual season. It’s like we’re living in an endless summer… fruit, sweet treats, and real or fake sugar is available around the clock.
And the continuous availability of fruit happens to be one of the largest contributors to our obesity crisis.
Of course, there are a lot of different kinds of sugar. And fruit has more than just one type of sugar – they’ve got fructose, glucose, and sucrose (otherwise known as table sugar).2
We used to think fruit was good for us – and some are (especially when they’re in season). However, not all plant foods are created equal. Some of the fruits that help us survive also contain substances that can harm us – mainly sugars and lectins.
For starters, the natural sugars in fruit and fruit juices can spike your blood sugar as much as table sugar does.3 So it stands to reason, the more fruit you remove from your diet, the healthier you might become.
Now, not only do the fruits we eat today contain more lectins than the fruits our grandparents ate, but they’re also are more likely to be GMOs – aka genetically modified organisms. GMOs are new organisms, not found in nature.
So, how do you avoid high sugar, lectin-filled fruit?
Well, it helps to know what fruits have the highest sugar content. When it comes to avoiding the sugariest fruits, start with the list below – especially when these fruits are not in season.
High Sugar Fruits
Grapes are an easy snack and I loved them as a kid. You know why? Because they’re essentially tiny sugar bombs. A large bunch of grapes has almost 40 grams of sugar. And a cup of fresh grapes has around 23 grams – it’s dessert, not a healthy snack!
Honestly, that’s a lot of sugar for a fruit that easy to munch on without tracking how many you’re popping into your mouth.
One note: when fermented into wine or vinegar, grapes are actually amazing for you. They’re a high-polyphenol food, and the fermentation process makes them much safer for your body. So enjoy plenty of balsamic vinegar – and the occasional glass of wine… just skip whole grapes!
Of course, a mango can vary in size, but an average mango can have up to a whopping 46 grams of sugar according to the USDA.4 And mangos are full of glucose, fructose, and even sucrose. In fact, as a mango ripens, all three types of sugar increase.5
Now, a medium slice of this juicy fruit has about 17 grams of sugar. But, who is ever able to keep it to a slice or even two when served watermelon on a hot summer day?
And since it’s a food that’s native to the new world, it’s not something your body actually knows how to process… meaning it’s the perfect food to make you sick!
4. Ripe Bananas
Before a banana ripens, it’s mostly made up of starch. In fact, green bananas are made up of almost 80% starch. But once the banana ripens, this starch gets converted into sugars – so much sugar that a “serving size” for a banana is actually half a large banana. Who does that? And you’ll find sucrose, fructose and glucose in a ripe banana. So stay away. (If you absolutely love bananas, I’ll share a surprise with you down below.)
Have you ever heard of lychees? These little guys almost have a sweet floral scent and a tart taste. They’re sometimes served with Asian inspired meals. They’ll fool you because they don’t seem too sweet, but they’re chock full of sugar – about 29 grams per cup.
You’ve been told since you were a kid, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But did you know one medium apple can have 19 grams of sugar?
Now, they’re also really high in fiber – so they’re not COMPLETELY a no-go. But stick to in-season (that means Aug-Nov) apples, and treat them like a special treat, not a daily snack.
I’ve always felt pineapples even taste too sugary. And with 16 grams of sugar in every cup, you can bet I avoid pineapple.
Finally, a medium pear has got about 17 grams of sugar. Of course, they’re also high in fiber, so like apples, they’re fine for you – IN MODERATION and IN SEASON.
That means they’re good to eat from about September through November or December… and again, as a treat, not a main course.
Overall, when it comes to fruit, it’s better to go without. Though not all fruits are loaded with sugar. If you’re looking for a fruit you can enjoy more frequently, check out these less sugary fruits below…
Less Sugary Fruits (aka YES fruits)
Not all fruits are loaded with sugar. An avocado, for instance – and yes, it’s a fruit – has only got about half a gram of sugar. Can you believe that? So throw avocado in your salads or make yummy guacamole. In fact, check out my recipe for avocado ice cream – it’s delicious!
Everybody loves to talk about how rich in potassium bananas are, but one medium banana has 14 grams of sugar. That’s quite a bit of sugar.
But, unripe tropical fruit has not yet increased its fructose content. Instead, it’s made up of resistant starches – something your good gut bugs love to munch on. So, if you find green bananas, go for it. Just do so in moderation.
Finally, these tart berries have only got about 5 grams of sugar per cup and they’re also an awesome source of fiber. Plus, they’re chock full of polyphenols. So, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, try freezing some raspberries and noshing on them when you need to satisfy temptation.
Figs & Coconuts
Also, contrary to popular belief, figs are flowers, not fruits! They’re high in sugar, but also high in fiber. And when they’re ripe (between August and December) they’re especially delicious. Figs are truly delicious and you can eat every bit but the stem!
Also, coconuts are considered by some to be fruit, but the FDA considers them tree nuts.6 Either way, coconut oil is full of good fats and if you don’t make room in your diet for coconuts, you should be eating them more often!
In today’s world, you really can get whatever you want whenever you want it. But remember, sweet flavors were only meant to be enjoyed one season out of the year – summer. One of the major purposes of fruit was to tell your body it was time to store fat for winter.
Of course, you don’t want to pack on the pounds all year long, so avoid fruit as much as you can. And, if you’ve got to satisfy that urge… go for avocado, green bananas, ripe raspberries or make sure the fruit you consume is in-season. If you do opt for in-season fruit, do so moderately.