Fruit tastes delicious, sweet and it's good for us - it provides us with essential vitamins and nutrients for our health... what's not to love?! Surely that means we should eat as much as we can get our hands on? Well, not quite. There is absolutely no denying that fruit is a great addition to all diets and definitely not something we should ever consider cutting out. However, fruit is still processed in the body as sugar at the end of the day and therefore we do still need to be careful of how much of it we eat (just like anything else!).
'But the sugar in fruit is healthy so surely we can eat as much as we want' - I've heard this being said a countless number of times! Is this true?
Answer: no. Sugar is still sugar - yes the sugar in fruit is unrefined and natural which makes it a much better and healthier choice than a chocolate bar or sweets but this doesn't mean we should gorge on it, especially not if we are trying to lose fat.
However, different fruits vary in their sugar content which means some are better than others if you are trying to reduce your sugar intake. In this post I'll briefly run through 4 low sugar fruits along with their health benefits.
As you probably guessed from the photo... berries are antioxidant powerhouses and have so much nutritional value (particularly blueberries). They are extremely rich in bioflavonoids which allow vitamin C to work effectively in the body as well as providing DNA protection and helping to speed up the healing of wounds/injuries.
Sugar content per 100g: 8-9g or 2 tsp (roughly - depends on the type of berry!)
- Lemons and limes
Citrus fruits are incredible sources of vitamin C which is extremely important in our diets - it neturalises free radicals in the body (free radicals interact with our healthy cells and damage them). Lemons and limes also contain flavonoids that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. I always have a glass of warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon in the morning before breakfast as it alkalises the stomach and stimulates digestion to get things moving.
Sugar content per 100g: 2.5g or about half a teaspoon
- Kiwi fruit
Another fruit packed full of vitamin C (more than an orange), vitamin E (more than an avocado), copper and potassium. This nutrition powerhouse is normally eaten with the furry skin taken off, however the skin is completely edible and will actually triple the fibre intake compared with just eating the flesh!
Sugar content per 100g: 9g or 2 tsp (one kiwi fruit is normally about 75g)
Coconuts are so versatile because we can use them in so many different ways... from water to milk to flour to oil and so on! Most of the health benefits from coconuts are due to its high saturated fat content (no, saturated fat is NOT bad for us - you can read more about this here) but coconuts are also a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. The lauric fatty acid in coconuts makes them anti-bacterial and anti-viral and can also aid with weight loss due to its satiety.
Sugar content per 100g: 6g or 1.5 tsp
As you can see, eating a low-sugar diet definitely does not mean you have to cut out fruit... that would be completely insane! But we can learn to make sensible choices by choosing lower-fructose options if possible. I'm definitely not saying we should cut out higher-fructose fruits such as bananas or grapes, but just that these should be eaten with a bit more moderation.
In the weekdays when I am pushed for time I have either berries, kiwi or a green apple mixed with greek yogurt and protein powder for my breakfast in the morning. At the weekends I normally cook with a banana to make healthy pancakes (my favourite recipe for banana salted caramel protein pancakes can be found here). So I'm definitely not saying that we need to cut out fruit but we should still be mindful of how much we are eating if we are trying to reduce our sugar intake or lose weight. In terms of the '5 portions of fruit and veg a day' rule, I aim for 2 pieces of whole fruit per day with the rest of my 5 a day coming from fresh vegetables (but I normally end up eating way more than 5 portions because I eat so many veggies).