We've all been raised to believe that fruit is good for you, and for all intents and purposes that's true, but nutritionally speaking, not all fruit is created equal. When it comes to these seed-bearing snacks, there are a bounty of options, from berries to dried varieties and even canned. So as consumers, should we just assume that everything under the fruit umbrella is healthy, or is it worth diving deeper to better understand these little nutritional variations?
We turned to dietitian Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, to break it down. With so much attention being given to low-sugar fruits that subscribe to the keto diet right now, it's important to take a step back and highlight that, while some fruit certainly contains more sugar than others, fruit as a group is still chock-full of heart-healthy nutrients that are important to our overall health and wellness. "Whole, fresh fruit contains natural sugars, along with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that are vital to health," explained Kubala. "The issue with fruit is not the sugar content per se, it's the amount of fruit that is consumed and how the fruit is processed." So before you go tossing apples into the compost, remind yourself that the focus should be on quantity more than anything. Parents should always feel good about being able to provide their children with fruit above all else.
What Fruits Are Low in Sugar?
"Although sugar content does vary between types of fresh fruit, more attention should be paid to serving sizes and processing, rather than worrying about which fruit contains the least sugar," noted Kubala. That said, here's her list of fruit low in sugar:
What Fruits Are High in Sugar?
Because fruit is so delicious, it's very easy for everyone to overindulge. Fruits high in sugar include:
"Although fresh fruit is a perfect, healthy snack for children and adults, attention should be paid to portions sizes and the total amount of fruit being consumed throughout the day," added Kubala. Since bananas and grapes (halved, of course) are toddler favorites, it's important to keep moderation in mind.
What's the Deal With Dried and Canned Fruit?
Dried and canned fruit is another story. "Dried fruits are condensed, which means they contain more sugar per serving than fresh fruit," shared Kubala. "Similarly, canned fruits in heavy syrup are loaded with sugar."
The emphasis on these options here is moderation as well. "Dried fruit can make a perfectly healthy snack for children. I always tell parents to dole out a portion of their kid's favorite dried fruit and mix it with a serving of nuts or seeds for a boost of healthy fat and protein," suggested Kubala. Mixing dried fruit with a source of healthy fat or protein like pumpkin seeds can even help regulate blood sugar.
What's the Deal With Juice?
Juice and smoothies should be approached with a little more apprehension because they are packed with sugar and lack the fiber that fresh fruit contains. Fiber is important because it can help prevent blood sugar spikes. "[Juice and smoothies] should be used as an occasional treat, but should not be consumed on a daily basis, even if the juice is 100 percent fruit," noted Kubala.