11 low-sugar fruits that are delicious and packed with nutrients
The vast majority of Americans don’t eat enough fruit. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, only 12 percent of adults eat the daily recommended amount.
“Fruits are rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fiber,” says Sarah Koszyk, RD, a nutrition coach and sports dietitian. She adds that some fruits, like blueberries, can help optimize brain and heart health, and reduce the risk of other diseases, like cancer.
One reason why some may shy away from fruit is because they fear the sugar in fruit will negatively impact their health. Koszyk says that, unlike added sugar in overly processed foods, the sugar in fruit is naturally occurring and isn’t something to obsess over. However, if you have diabetes or are trying to minimize spikes in blood sugar, it can be helpful to know what fruits are low in sugar so you can still enjoy their nutrient benefits without blood sugar levels rising.
To that end, the 11 fruits listed below are all low in sugar yet rich in nutrient density.
11 Low-Sugar Fruits
Registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD, says that figs are a great low-sugar fruit to add to your shopping list. Figs are high in fiber, calcium and potassium. Sprinkle cinnamon on top for extra sweetness that will keep blood sugar levels steady.
Kiwi is another low-sugar fruit Rifkin recommends incorporating into your diet. One benefit of kiwi is that it’s full of vitamin C, which helps support the immune system—especially important right now with yet another COVID-19 strain going around.
If you’re not into kiwi but like the idea of a low-sugar fruit that will support the immune system, Rifkin recommends tangerines. Some canned tangerines can be high in added sugar, so be sure to read the ingredients list if you aren’t buying them fresh.
Another low-sugar fruit Rifkin recommends are apricots, an oft-underrated fruit. Not only are they low in sugar, but they’re full of fiber, antioxidants and vitamin A, which directly supports eye health. Add them to yogurt or oatmeal, or incorporate them into a salad.
Koszyk calls out blueberries as another fruit that’s low-sugar, but packed with nutrients. They’re especially high in antioxidants, which benefit the heart and brain. Blueberries may be small, but their benefits are big.
6. Goji berries
If you’ve never tried goji berries, Koszyk recommends giving them a try. These berries are scientifically linked to helping lower inflammation. Goji berries have a slightly sour taste and can add a burst of flavor to salads, grain bowls, or enjoyed as is.
Another berry Koszyk recommends is raspberries. One benefit to raspberries is that they’re high in potassium, which supports cardiovascular health. They also contain manganese, which helps keep blood sugar levels steady.
Apples and peanut butter get Koszyk’s seal of approval as a satiating, low-sugar snack. Apples are low-sugar on their own and she says that the fiber and protein in nut butter also help keep blood sugar levels steady.
Scientific studies have shown that eating cherries after a workout can help with muscle recovery and could also help with endurance. This is because they’re especially high in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant which helps with blood flow. Who knew a low-sugar fruit could give you an athletic edge?
As you can likely tell from its name, watermelon has an especially high water content making it a super hydrating fruit. One cup of watermelon only has nine grams of sugar. This fruit also contains calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Often, rhubarb is only thought of in terms of pie-making, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this low-sugar fruit. Incorporating it into barbecue, salads or pairing it with yogurt are a few ideas to try. When you do, you’ll benefit from its nutrients, which include vitamin K (good for bone health), fiber and antioxidants.
Both dietitians reiterate that all fruit is healthy and shouldn’t be avoided, even in an effort to curb sugar. “Fruit provides key nutrients that our bodies need, like fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carbohydrates and water,” Rifkin says. “By avoiding fruit, one would be missing out on essential nutrition for the body.”
Koszyk says that pairing fruit with protein-rich food will help keep blood sugar levels steady. But if you are looking for fruit that won’t raise blood sugar levels when eaten alone, the above list has you covered. Incorporate them into your diet and the benefits will be, well, fruitful.