A Beginner’s Guide to Low Sugar Fruits

Many people seek sweet touches in their diets that include low sugar fruits so they are able to enjoy desserts while still keeping their sugar intake low.  Whether restricting sugar because of a health problem or simply to live a healthier life, having alternatives that allow people to take pleasure in delicious desserts makes those choices easier.

How Sugar Affects Our Diets

Sugar is a carbohydrate.  The human body uses carbohydrates as fuel; energy that is burned to fuel all of the body processes and our daily movements.  Every move that we make, whether it is simply turning our head or running a marathon, requires energy.  This fact makes it obvious that we all need to include carbohydrates in our diets.

This, however, is where it becomes a bit confusing.  Many of the popular diets today warn against eating carbohydrates if weight loss is desired.  Yet the body must have them in order to supply us with needed energy.  To better understand this conundrum, it is necessary to understand carbs. Carbohydrates come mainly from plant based material such as fruits, vegetables, beans, peas and grains.  Dairy products, which are animal based materials, are also carbohydrates.  While we all need to consume carbs for energy and optimal functioning of our bodies, it is important that the right carbs, such as low sugar fruits, are consumed.  There are good (complex) carbohydrates, which include whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and there are bad (simple) carbohydrates which include processed foods, white breads and most baked goods.  When carbohydrates are eaten, they are changed into glycogen which is either immediately used as energy or stored in the body for later use.   Because high carb foods make the body release more insulin produced in the body itself, eating foods that fall into this category can result in excess blood sugar and the possibility of the onset of type 2 diabetes.  

Complex carbohydrates are the best sources for energy as they result in a lower rise in blood sugar because they take longer to digest, while simple carbohydrates cause an immediate spike in blood sugar that quickly goes away.  This means that most of the dessert items that we have grown to love, including cakes, pies, doughnuts and cookies, are not good choices when watching carb intake.  It does not mean that a sweet ending is totally prohibited, though, as there are many low sugar fruits that can be enjoyed in their natural state to appease our sweet tooth.

What Are Low Sugar Fruits?

All fruits contain natural occurring sugars.  Some, however, possess higher sugar content than others.  Fresh fruits with the lowest amount of natural sugar include:

  • Apricots - One 4 oz. apricot contains only 17 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates
  • Pears - Since pears are high in fiber, they are forgiven for their slightly higher carb count.
  • Apples - Though 14 grams of carbohydrates, apples are also high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants when eaten raw with the skin.
  • Kiwi - 13 grams of carbs are found in one large kiwi as well as potassium, fiber and vitamin C.
  • Berries - High in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and bursting with satisfying flavor, berries are low sugar fruits and weigh in at only 62 calories for ¾ cup.
  • Cranberries - Known as a “superfruit”, these tiny rubies have only 4 grams of carbs per ½ cup serving due to their low sugar content. 

It is important to note that, while these fruits are considered to be low sugar and therefore low carb in their natural state, baking them in a pie or dousing them in a sugary syrup changes their status from a “good” carb that is healthy for us to a “bad” carb that should be avoided or, at the very least, limited drastically.

Satisfying A Sweet Tooth

Low sugar fruits are delicious eaten just as they are, but they can also be combined with other foods to enhance their sweet nature.  Layered with Greek yogurt, whole grain toasted oats and healthful nuts, a parfait makes for a great, healthy start to the day or a satisfying sweet finish to dinner.  Add chopped fruits to a warm bowl of oatmeal or to a cold cereal containing whole grains; toss some fresh fruits into a salad containing dark, leafy greens and seeds for a filling and tasty meal. 

If a warm dessert is your craving, try baking an apple or pear with cranberries after sprinkling with a sugar substitute.  Also, it is possible to enjoy baked goods with any of these low sugar fruits when substituting the standard white flour with almond, flax seed meal or whole grain flours.  There are many low carbohydrate recipes on the internet that will be helpful.

Focusing on adding low sugar fruits to your diet and decreasing bakery products using refined flours and sugars can not only help people to stabilize blood sugar but also can be very helpful in weight loss endeavors.  Eating healthy does not necessarily mean giving up those tasty treats that serve to satisfy our sweet tooth; it simply means enjoying fruits in the manner in which they were intended, fresh and natural.