When it comes to the dessert menu, you’re better off with a fruit salad, but while fruits are nutrient-dense snacks, sugar is sugar. Even natural forms of sugar in fruit, can still send your blood-sugar level soaring as much as a triple chocolate mousse!
Here’s a handy guide to get your sugar fixed in the healthiest way possible:
Low-, medium- and high-sugar fruits
All fruits have zero cholesterol and saturated fats, and are low in sodium, keeping your blood pressure balanced. Therefore, the only baddie on your fruit platter or sosatie is sugar. Here is the low-down from your healthiest, to your sweetest options available:
Low sugar content: Blackberries, raspberries, lemon and limes.
Medium sugar content: Peaches, pears, melons, apples, nectarines, apricots, oranges and naartjies.
Highest sugar content: mangoes, pawpaw, grapes, bananas and pineapples.
The good thing about all fruit is that they contain fibre, which keeps you regular while you feed your sweet tooth. Fruit are packed with nutrients too:
- Purple and red fruits are high in antioxidants
- Citrus fruits give an immune-boosting punch with Vitamin C
- Avocados (yes, they are fruit!) contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
- Orange fruit, like apricots, are high in Vitamin A.
How much sugar is too much?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults limit their total sugar intake to 5% of their total daily calorie intake. That’s around 30g, or six teaspoons of sugar, a day, and includes all sugars. Low-sugar fruits typically have one or fewer teaspoons of sugar per 100g.
Which fruit is best?
Medium-sugar and low-sugar fruit ease the mid-afternoon craving, while high-fibre fruit get a constipated tummy back to work. Hydrating fruit, like watermelons, keep you cool and full on a hot summer day, while high-sugar fruit like bananas are useful for a quick energy boost.
Work out how many grams per 100g of a fruit is sugar. Five grams is around one teaspoon of sugar; any more and you want to add a generous helping of dietary fibre, fat or protein, to smooth out the sugar high. The WHO’s recommended daily allowance for fibre is 25g, 44 to 78g for fat and for protein, 0.8g per kilogram body weight.
- Lemons and limes are the stars of the low-sugar show with less than 5g per fruit. They also score high on nutrient value, with 74% and 48% of the daily recommended dose of Vitamin C respectively. Their sour taste makes them hard to swallow, so drizzle the juice over a fruit or vegetable salad. An added bonus: acids slow down the release of sugars, staving off a crash.
- Raspberries, with less than a teaspoon of sugar and almost two teaspoons of dietary fibre, plus 48% of the RDA of Vitamin C in just 100g, are a great choice to add to some full-fat, sugar-free yogurt.
- Blackberries are low in sugar, high in fibre and pack a Vitamin C punch; 38% of your daily allowance.
- Avocados stand out with high fibre and low sugar values. It’s also a source of healthy fat, making it a perfect snack to tide you through to supper.
- Budget options – apples, pears, oranges and naartjies – are good for your pocket and waistline.
If you’re trying to ease hunger, very high-sugar fruits are a no-no. There aren’t many fruits you should avoid, but make sure you lean towards the medium- and low-sugar options. Add fat, protein, more fibre or acids like lemon or lime juice can help avoid sugar-crashes.