Should You Avoid Fruit Because It’s Full Of Sugar?

October 26, 2012   32 Comments

That lady up there isn’t avoiding fruit. She has made a lovely sculpture to express her love.

Is Sugar In Fruit Healthy?

I’m sitting here with two pieces of fruit looking at me right now. They are my go-to snack to stop me from eating the cookies that are lurking behind me. A Snack Girl reader, Wendy, sent me a great question about fruit:

I am much more aware of sugar in the food I am choosing thanks to your blog...However, I am confused as to the sugar in fruit. Is this natural sugar ok?

I’m so happy I have made Wendy aware of sugar, but I don’t want her to stop eating fruit. People have dismissed the health benefits of fruit because it has sugar and I need to stand up for fruit.

Carbohydrates have been slammed because of the high protein - low carb diets that people follow. I wrote my response to those programs here: Surprise! Carbohydrates Are Not Evil .

My perspective is that humans have been evolving with fruit and eating fruit for as long as there have been humans. This makes fruit one of those foods that we are adapted to eat to fuel all the systems in our body.

Take a look at cancer prevention as an example. The compounds that naturally occur in strawberries have been shown to stop the growth of cancer cells in test tubes (Strawberry Extracts Inhibit Growth of Human Cancer Cells In Vitro).

Can mashed up Twinkies do that?

I will happily eat my strawberries with 7 grams of sugar per cup and get all that cancer fighting goodness that my immune system can use.

My point is that you need to evaluate the food that the sugar is in. Over and over on this blog, I talk about watching out for sugar added by food manufacturers.

For example, when I talked about Craisins this week. They had added sugar and I didn’t think most people realized it.

But, an apple with its 19 grams of sugar is another story. You are getting fiber, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, and a host of micronutrients that are necessary for your body to function properly. These micronutrients are trace minerals like zinc and chromium which aren’t even listed on labels because we need such a small amount.

Since you need sugar to function, why not get your sugar from the source with all the other stuff you need? I believe it is the added sugar in processed foods that is making us fat and unhealthy not the sugar incorporated by a tree into an apple.

What is your take on fruit? Do you avoid it because of its sugar content?

Other posts you might like:


Surprise! Carbohydrates Are Not Evil

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rep. They are the macronutrient that you don’t want to meet in a dark alley (notice the crime tape in the above photo).

Healthy Eating Challenges

What Stops You From Eating Healthier?

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Get Free Email Updates! Yes please!


I entirely agree - eating fruit is much better than the processed sugar alternatives.

However, I have read that we should not exceed the 2 per day rule. Which is sad, because I use up those two servings by midday. Does anyone know if this is true? How many servings does everyone else eat a day?

Lisa, I'm so glad you wrote this post. I love fruit, I eat is several times a day and like you; it keeps me from snacking on the bad stuff. But I have a lot of clients who are afraid of fruit because of it's sugar content. It's hard to convince them that fruit is not the enemy. How can anything so natural be the enemy? One of the best times to eat fruit is right after you workout. Yep, my go-to post workout snack is Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit. Not a GNC post-workout shake that tastes like cardboard.

Great post! Fruit is good for you!! I don't care about the sugar in fruit, it's way better then the processed crap out there on the markets! Give me a juicy orange, a tart apple, sweet strawberries anytime over pre-made stuff!!!

Thank You Thank You for writing this!! I "do" Weight Watchers and have lost over 80lbs. I get so tired of people knocking the "free fruit" and while I don't think that we should over-eat any food, I doubt that eating fruit has caused so many of us to be obese!! I love fruit..yes, even bananas!!

Lisa - thanks for addressing this. You and I shared email about this a while back and it scared me that people weren't eating fruit because of old point issues and sugar. There isn't much that's better for you than fruit!

Ah, fruits. The snack of gods and emperors. My go-to sweet snack since I was teensy

I didn't get this fat from eating too many apples.

Fruit is nature's treat, dessert, candy . I have maintained my weight on ww for 20 months now, and I will not give up my fruit

The sugar in fruit keeps me on track! If it weren't for fruit I would have no luck in eating healthy at all because I have a ridiculous sweet tooth!

Great post. Bananas help keep me full.

Thank you for this! :)

Thank you for this post! I get so frustrated when I'm told to limit my fruit to lose weight. I recently heard this from a nutritionist at my gym. I eat 3-4 serving of fruit everyday and I've lost 50 bls. I'm personal proof you do not need to limit your fruit intake to lose weight. All sugar is not created equal.

Another great post! I didn't realize that people were still apprehensive about fruit. I have diabetes and am on meds for it. When I drink my fruit heavy green smoothies ( Which I learned about thanks to you! ) on a regular basis, my sugar control is perfect. On the other hand cookies etc, will make me spike too high.

just stumbled across your blog and i love it!! i've been doing the Game On! diet with some friends and have lost 15! of the most stubborn pounds ever!!! i have fallen in love all over again with a simple grape. the game on! diet has you eat 5 times a day (protein, carb and fat) when i need a feeling of sweetness i get 10 grapes out and it has been just the icing on the cake. i do admit, it's harder for me to want to eat my veggies verses my fruits, but with the game on! diet you are required to eat 2 fistfuls of veggies with 2 of your meals or you don't make your points...something about earning or losing points that makes you eat's complete mental craziness. I LOVE fruit! but never drink my fruits, i'd rather savor it in pear, grapes, bananas...yummy!!

Thank you for spreading the word about the goodness of fruit.

It drives me nuts when people insist that the fruit in sugar in bad and thus avoid these nutriet powerhouses!

A misconception when it comes to fruit is how it's broken down in your body. Sugar in fruit does not break down the same was as sugar in candy. This is the most important factor to consider, yes it's still sugar, however your body is able to regulate its blood sugar levels in a healthier way. This article sums it up…

I was trying to follow WW and couldn't understand why I was not losing. My friend pointed out that I was probably eating too much fruit, since it's "free" on WW. When I began eating more veggies and less fruit, I finally started to lose weight. I cut WAY back on carbs - but did not completely cut them out - and chose better carbs when I did eat them. I cut way back on sweets, and became much more aware of sugar intake. My friend also pointed out that if you would give your body some protein to process along with your fruit, you will not get the sugar spike/drop thing. Like you always say, SG, apples w/peanut butter, or like the post above having Greek yogurt with fruit. So, I think the protein along with the fruit is key.

I also thank you for addressing the fruit issue. I eat 3 to 5 fruits a day. I have lost 70 pounds on WW since February. I don't get the griping about the zero point fruit that I hear about the new program. Cathy, I don't know where you heard about limiting your fruit to 2, but that is not true!! WW wants you to have AT LEAST 5 fruits/vegetables combined per day. I think healthy eating nutritional guidelines -- the food pyramid -- say you should have 9 per day combined of fruits/veggies. I have a sweet tooth, also, and fruit definitely helps me with that. Keep up the good posts.

I am seven days into the Eat to Live diet, feel great lost six pounds. You are supposed to eat aleast four frous per day on this plan.

Like my Weight Watcher leader says "we didn't get fat eating fruit"!!! So true. Weight Watchers allows fruit free (no points) but in moderation.

Glucose( sugar) is also what fuels our brain, so we need it. As with anything , in moderation. I am a raspberry junkie. They are in my yogurt , or smoothie every morning. I like them best frozen!

Fruit is great! So good for you! I freeze blackberries,blueberries, raspberries in season. I then use some each day in my steel cut oatmeal....

There is nothing inherently wrong with sugar; the issue, as with so many other foods, is quantity. Sugar shows up in canned vegetables, most boxed cereal,and other processed foods. I think it sufficient to avoid or reduce it in these products, not from whole foods.

Its been along time since my nutrition 101 class, but I seem to recall natural sugar being treated differently in the body than good old table sugar. I also justify eating as much fruit as you want by pointing out that alot of fruits go right through you lol. It's not sitting in your body forever like a piece of steak.

It is unfortunate that people think fruit is bad for you as it's laden with sugar. Kind of similar to people thinking energy drinks are better than soda. Not only do fruits have a host of other awesome things but also are moderate to low glycemic food. We need sugar, the same way we need carbs. The question is where to get it from - candy or fruit.

I have noticed that a protein with fruit is the key for me, as I have hypoglycemia. I recall reading an article about fruit's nutrient content being much higher than vegetables several years ago, when my kids were small, and I've been serving them lots of fruit for a long time, and they are super-healthy, rarely sick and not overweight. The article said that the vitamins/minerals per piece of fruit are much higher than the same amount of veggies, and not to worry about the fruit sugars. That being said, unprocessed fruit is what they were referencing, not juice or fruit snacks, which aren't fruit anyway, as far as I'm concerned. My two cents is don't worry about the fruit sugars, unless you're on a diet plan and aren't losing weight fast enough. If I was doing WW and fruit was free, I'd probably eat lots of it! :)

I keep telling my kids, fruit is natures candy and they need to eat it up! Anytime they come and ask me mom, can I eat an apple? I always say when have I ever said no that question?! I am especially in love with berries, I eat them all the time.

Totally agree that fruit is good and healthy for you! Like you mention, all the fiber and nutrients definitely make up for the sugar in fruit. People with diabetes or pre-diabetic may need to watch out for some high sugar fruits; but always a first step is eliminating or reducing the processed stuff, full of hidden sugar. Great post!

I have been saying this for years! I actually had an argument with someone about this! They actually said I might as well eat a piece of cake! I was like "you got to be kidding me! Are you for real??" They were serious. How can you even compare cake to fruit or a vegetable like a carrot for that matter!?!?! People are so misinformed!

I eat 2-3 servings of fruit a day and have maintained the same healthy weight, within 2-3 pounds for the last 26 years!

I have to say, since I've been keeping track of my food & exercise using I temporarily freaked out at "wow I am waaaaaay over my sugar intake for the day!!" just because I had a banana with breakfast and an apple for a snack. Crazy, right? So I got over it and still eat a couple of pieces of fruit per day. I'm still losing weight slowly and steadily. No surprise, right?

I have always been under the impression that fruit even though it has sugar is ok to eat as it is a natural sugar. As with anything, you have to monitor your intake. Anything in excess is going to have a negative impact. It's always a sad day here in MD when the local produce stand closes and I can no longer get the wonderful melons, peaches etc. I tend to eat a lot of apples this time of year, so delicious!

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