What About Sugar in Fruits and Veggies?

a bag of groceries

Check out the grams and teaspoons of sugar in a few of the sweeter natural, fiber-rich foods:

Amount of Sugar in Sweet Fiber Rich Foods
Food Amount Sugar, grams Sugar, teaspoons
Banana 1 medium 14 ~3
Mango 1 cup pieces 23 5 ½
1 medium 46 11
Pineapple 1 cup chunks 16 ~4
Sweet potato 1 large, baked 12 ~3

If we’re not supposed to eat a lot of sugar, should we stop eating these foods?

It’s all about the packaging

Sugar is sugar, but how it’s packaged makes all the difference in how the sugar affects the body. Let me explain.

Check out the following comparison between a mango and a Coke, both with quite a few grams of sugar:

Mango vs. Coke
  Mango, medium Coke, 12 oz
Calories 202 151
Protein, grams 3 0
Total fat, grams 1 0
Sugar, grams 46 39
- teaspoons 11 9
Fiber, grams 5 0
Calcium, mg 37 7
Iron, mg 1 0
Magnesium, mg 34 0
Potassium, mg 564 11
Sodium, mg 3 15
Vitamin C, mg 122 0
Niacin, mg 2 0
Folic acid, mcg 144 0
Beta-carotene, IU 3636 0
Vitamin E, mg 3 0

The protein and fiber in the mango enable the body to handle the sugar in a healthful way. And all the other nutrients and phytochemicals the mango contains are powerful perks that help you get and stay healthy.

A Lexus or a truck?

It’s kinda’ like the difference between riding in a Lexus vs riding in a truck. Both vehicles can get you where you want to go. But clearly the Lexus will give you the smoother ride. Plus you get all the amazing extras.

If you have diabetes…

You may have to be careful with these sweeter fiber-rich foods because they can possibly spike your blood sugar.

Experiment with these foods and see what works for you. A couple suggestions:

  1. Try smaller portions, which is a great strategy for eating sweet potatoes.
  2. Eat the foods with other foods that don’t tend to spike blood sugar: beans, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Unfortunately, the sweeter fruits can spike sugars in some people with diabetes no matter what they try. If that’s true for you, don’t despair. You can still have a Lexus ride if you stick to unsweetened berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and fruits with pits and cores like apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, and plums.

So should I stop eating them?

No, remember the Lexus? They're packaged with lots of fiber and other great things you need. It's much better to get your "sweet" fix from these fruits than a candy bar.

But like any luxury car, you might want to limit your mileage with these high-sugar fruits. The same recommendation works for you as for those people with diabetes: there are lots of other fruits that you can load up on and still lose weight.

Here’s what I mean. Check out the calorie and sugar differences:

Mango vs. Blueberries
  Mango, medium Blueberries, 1 cup
Calories 202 84
Protein, grams 3 1
Total fat, grams 1 1
Sugar, grams 46 15
- teaspoons 11 3 ½
Fiber, grams 5 4
Calcium, mg 37 9
Iron, mg 1 0.4
Magnesium, mg 34 9
Potassium, mg 564 114
Sodium, mg 3 1
Vitamin C, mg 122 14
Niacin, mg 2 1
Folic acid, mcg 144 9
Beta-carotene, IU 3636 80
Vitamin E, mg 3 1

So what will it be, the Lexus or the truck?


Diana Fleming

Diana Fleming, PhD, LDN, is a co-author of The Full Plate Diet and Nutritionist for Full Plate Living. She received her doctoral degree from Tufts University and has since dedicated her time to translating complicated nutritional data into easy and fun concepts anyone can apply at their next meal. In her spare time, she has painstakingly perfected the ultimate healthy AND delicious chocolate chip cookie.

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