5 Low-Sugar Fruits You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty About Eating

Three watermelon slices sitting on a wood table.

This all started with skepticism about watermelon.

Surely this summer favourite is loaded with sugar, considering how sweet it tastes, and should be avoided. Right? Wrong.

There was actual rejoice around our office when, upon googling, I found watermelon (and other melon) on a list of low-sugar fruit.

Limiting sugar — even in fruit — is good for your waistline, yes, but curbing those sweet calories can also help avoid a domino effect on your health. Diets high in sugar can lead to obesity, which in turn can lead to chronic disease including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

But it’s not just how little sugar a fruit contains that makes it a better choice.

“Fruit is a source of sugar (fructose) but it also comes with fibre. Fibre is also a carbohydrate but it takes longer for our body to digest so it helps to stabilize your blood sugar,” says Windsor, Ont.-based registered dietitian Andrea Docherty.

“Plus, fruit contains lots of anti-oxidants and phytochemicals, which have been shown to minimize risk of cancer and promote cardiovascular health. And, they’ve got lots of water and vitamins and minerals.”

Docherty recommends two to three servings of fruit a day and here’s her top five low-sugar picks.

1. Melon

“Cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon are all low in sugar and have high water content.”

Of the three, watermelon has the least amount of sugar (5 grams) per serving (125 ml, cubed) and is also a  good source of calcium (6 mg per same serving size).

2. Berries

“All berries are a great source of fibre and are very low in sugar. It’s the seeds that gives them their fibre.”

Raspberries, in particular, contain the most fibre (4.2 grams) and only 3 grams of sugar per serving (125 ml).

3. Kiwi Fruit

Each kiwi contains about 7 grams of sugar and, although its fibre content might not seem high at 2.3 grams, it provides both types; soluble (helps you feel full) and insoluble (acts as a natural laxative to move waste out and help keep you regular).

RELATED: Healthy Eats: 5 Reasons to Load Up on Kiwi Fruit

4. Peaches

A late-summer favourite, this stone fruit has a little more sugar (roughly 8 grams per peach) and a little less fibre (1.9 grams) but it’s a good source of vitamin A (important for bone and tissue health) and beta carotene (some evidence suggests that it might slow cognitive decline).

5. Avocado

We may not think of it as a fruit but it is and, as Docherty points out, “Avocado is very low in sugar (1 gram per half) and what makes it unique is that it contains unsaturated good fat (15 grams), and fibre (6.7 grams).”

Incidentally, fat is a good pairing with fruit, says Docgerty.

“I recommend that when you do have fruit, pair it with fat or protein. Like fibre, fat and protein take a little longer for your body to digest so they can also help stabilize your blood sugar.”

Try berries with plain yogurt or cottage cheese, or add avocado to your smoothie, she suggests.

What About Fruit Juice

Juice counts as a serving of fruit but, as Docherty points out, it does lack the fibre of whole fruit. If you’re going to indulge in juice think about doing it only occasionally, make sure there’s no added sugar and limit the serving to 125 ml (half a cup).

“A lot of juice comes in what seems like a single serving but it can be as much as two cups or more. It’s easy to drink that amount but that’s several servings of fruit — and you wouldn’t necessarily eat four apples or four oranges at a time,” she says.

For Health Canada’s Nutrient Value of Common Foods, including all the fruit listed above and more, click here.