The Truth About Sugar In Fruit–And How Much Each Fruit Contains

It’s no secret that fruit contains sugar. Usually, these sugars aren’t counted in dietary or health guidelines. When the American Heart Association measures sugar, for instance, they only measure added sugar–sweeteners that are not naturally occurring.

But that hasn’t stopped concerns about how much glucose is in fruit. People on more strict diets need to know if snacking on a pear will throw off their day. Are fruits really healthy with all that sweetness? And which fruits have more sucrose than others? Read on to learn the under-discussed truth about sugar in fruits.

Figs Are One Of The Sweetest

A close up shows sliced fig fruits.
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Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Figs are the most sugar-dense fruit around. With eight grams of sugar per fig, one serving of this fruit adds up to 32 grams of sugar. But even in dried figs, these sugars are all-natural. Figs provide many nutrients on top of their sugar.

Figs are high in fiber and potassium that benefit gut health. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends using figs over empty-calorie sugars, since the latter lack nutritional benefit. Add them to desserts, cereal, and muffins to get your sweet dose without loading up on added sugar.

Cherries Are So Sweet, You’ll Fall Asleep

Two cherries sit in a black bowl against a dark background.
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An average cup of cherries provides 13 grams of sugar. Sweet cherries (different from red cherries) contain 20 grams of sugar per cup. As with most fruit, dried cherries have more added sugars than fresh cherries, with almost 30 grams per one-third cup.

If you’re looking for a fruity dessert, cherries are your best bet. According to research in the American Journal of Therapeutics, cherries help people sleep because they naturally produce melatonin. Tart cherries also reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, according to a 2018 study in Food & Function.

Grapes Are Sugary, But They’re Also Healthy

A young woman eats green grapes in a sunflower field.
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ThomasRosenthal.de/ullstein bild via Getty Images

If you eat one cup of grapes, you’ll consume 15 grams of sugar. However, the sugar content varies by grape. Cotton candy grapes provide 23 grams per cup, while raisins raise the natural sugars to 25 grams. That’s why they’re so yummy!

This isn’t a reason to avoid grapes, however. They’re packed with vitamins C, K, and B6. Grapes have around 1,600 plant compounds, including antioxidants, most of which are in red grapes. These may reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, according to the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Mangoes Have Some Of The Most Sugar

A woman eats mango with sticky rice, a popular local dessert in China.
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KRIT PHROMSAKLA NA SAKOLNAKORN/AFP via Getty Images

As with most tropical fruits, mangoes are filled with natural sugars. If you were to eat the whole mango, you’d consume 46 grams of sugar–more than most doughnuts! However, most people don’t eat that much. One cup of mango takes up half the fruit, which equals 23 grams of fructose.

Despite its high sugar levels, mangoes help blood glucose levels. During a 2014 study, participants with obesity who ate freeze-dried mango experienced better blood sugar levels. Although mango didn’t produce weight loss in the study, it still reduced the participants’ risk of diabetes.

Eat Sweet Kiwis For Your Respiratory System

Two kiwi slices are placed on forks.
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JEAN-PIERRE MULLER/AFP via Getty Images

Kiwis have fewer sugars than other tropical fruits because they’re so small. If you eat one kiwi, you’ll only consume around six grams of sugar. Increase that amount to one cup, and you’ll receive 16 grams. Since many people eat fewer kiwis per serving, they usually don’t have this much sucrose.

Along with having the usual fruit benefits–high fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants–kiwis also improve respiratory health. During a 2012 study, participants who ate four fresh kiwis daily had a lower risk of developing respiratory infections. This likely has to do with kiwi’s polyphenols and vitamin content.

Pears Aren’t That Bad

A customer picks a pear at a supermarket.
Sergei BobylevTASS via Getty Images
Sergei BobylevTASS via Getty Images

Compared to other fruits, pears are relatively high in sugar. A medium pear consists of 17 grams of sugar. This amount may vary based on the type of pear that you eat. While that may sound like a diabetes threat, research suggests the opposite.

In 2017, a study in Food & Function reported the eating apples and pears might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 18%. However, eating pears as juice does not have this effect. Eating a single serving of pears likely won’t result in negative consequences.

Bananas Won’t Hurt You

A banana and banana smoothie lay on a blue wooden table.
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Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Have you ever wondered why banana bread tastes so sweet? It’s not just the added sugar. A medium banana has around 14 grams of sugar. That’s almost double what you receive from one cup of strawberries. But like the other fruits on this list, there’s no reason to dump bananas.

“Nobody gets fat or develops diabetes from eating too many bananas,” says Registered Dietitian Jessica Bihuniak. She adds that bananas are packed with fiber, electrolytes, potassium, and B vitamins. In 2014, researchers found that over-ripe bananas have a greater impact on blood sugar than under-ripe bananas.

Grapefruit May Help Lose Weight

A grapefruit is sliced in half.
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How much sugar do you think grapefruit has? Surprisingly, this sour fruit offers eight grams of sucrose, which is doubled when you eat a whole cup. Despite its high sugar content for a citrus fruit, research shows that grapefruit may help people lose weight.

During a 2011 study in Nutrition & Metabolism, participants who supplemented grapefruit lost 1.7 inches of belly fat and 7% of fat overall. In another study, researchers at Vanderbilt University found that adding grapefruit to a diet aids weight loss. Even grapefruit juice helped.

Honeydew Is Mostly Sugar, But It’s Good For You

Honeydew slices lay on a table.
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Honeydew melon is sweeter than other melons due to its sugar content. An average honeydew wedge has 10 grams of sugar, while a cup is closer to 14 grams. Since honeydew is mainly water, sugar accounts for 90% of honeydew’s calories. But these calories also offer fiber, which prevents us from feeling a sugar rush.

Honeydew is also full of nutrients that are vital for bone health. Its folate and B vitamins that maintain bone density over time, according to a 2015 study in Nutrients. This melon also supplies vitamin K, another mineral that contributes to healthy bones.

Are Oranges Sugary? It Depends

A Palestinian farmer holds three oranges at a farm.
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Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sugar in oranges depends on their size. Large oranges, for instance, have up to 17 grams of sugar, while small ones have nine grams. On average, a medium-sized orange contains 12 grams of sugar. Tangerines have slightly more at 12.7 grams per fruit (again, depending on their size).

The main carbs in oranges are simple sugars–fructose, glucose, and sucrose–and fiber. They also provide vitamin C, potassium, and B vitamins. In 2011, researchers noted that oranges have a blood-thinning effect that may lower blood pressure. Even orange juice has this benefit.

Lychees Taste Sweet For A Reason

One lychee fruit is slightly peeled.
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Antony Dickson/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Lychee is a tropical fruit that is often added to Thai foods and drinks. When you peel off the red skin, the white insides provide a burst of sweetness. One cup of lychees supplies 30 grams of sugar. If you use lychee syrup for drink recipes, you’ll eat even more sugar.

At the same time, a cup of lychees supplies well over your daily recommended vitamin C. They also have a healthy amount of copper and potassium. In 2006, an animal study in Cancer Letters found that lychees may prevent cancer cells from forming.

Pineapples Are Basically Dessert

A Costa Rican enjoys a pineapple.
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MAYELA LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images

As a general rule, tropical fruits have more sugar than temperate fruits. Pineapple is a good example. One cup of pineapple has about 16 grams of sugar. If you were to eat the entire fruit, you’d consume 89 grams of sugar! That’s about seven chocolate donuts.

But pineapple isn’t like added sugar–it comes with a host of nutrients. One cup of pineapple provides 131% of your daily vitamin C and 76% of your recommended manganese. They also have a compound called bromelain that has combated cancer cells in test tube studies.

How Much Watermelon Should You Eat?

A model wearing a light pink head scarf eats a slice of watermelon.
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Karen Radkai/Condé Nast via Getty Images

As its name suggests, watermelon is 92% water. But this tropical fruit also has a high amount of sugar. A medium-sized wedge of watermelon comes out to 17 grams of glucose; dicing the fruit into a cup lowers that amount to 10 grams. Fortunately, this isn’t as much sugar as some other fruits.

According to Today, eating too much watermelon can result in a blood sugar spike. But at the same time, watermelon lends 20% of your daily vitamin C, 17% of your vitamin A, and some fiber. Plus, it hydrates you. WebMD recommends limiting your portions to a slice or two.

Apples Likely Won’t Increase Blood Sugar

Apple slices are displayed on a Christmas plate.
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Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Although apples taste sweet, they have less sugar than other fruits. A cup of chopped apples has around 10 grams of sugar, while a whole, medium apple raises the amount to 19 grams. But most people don’t eat the entire apple when they avoid the core.

Although some people worry that apples increase blood sugar, research suggests the opposite. According to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, apples contain fiber and polyphenols that make them slow to digest. This makes blood sugar spikes unlikely, even in people with diabetes.

Peaches Are Worth It

A woman holds a peach.
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Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Despite tasting sweet, peaches have less sucrose than other fruits. A single peach has 13 grams of sugar, and a cup of sliced peaches has around the same amount. A peach also supplies healthy antioxidants such as vitamin C, potassium, and iron.

Test tube studies suggest that peaches may lower blood cholesterol despite their sugar content. According to Food Chemistry, peaches contain bile acids that bind cholesterol. Eventually, your body excretes it, and you won’t receive a high cholesterol spike.

Apricots Have Low Glucose

A chef prepares apricots for the grill.
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Mark Leffingwell/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

Unlike their fruity cousins, apricots have very few sugars. A single apricot contains just over three grams of sugar, according to the USDA. If you increase that amount to one cup, you’ll eat 15 grams of sugar. They also supply vitamin A, copper, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C.

Apricots have a low glycemic index, which makes them safe for blood sugar levels. Dried apricots have an even lower glycemic index due to their high fiber. Plus, their high antioxidant level guards the body against diseases such as diabetes and stroke, according to the Journal of Functional Foods.

Blueberries Are A Very Sugary Berry

A woman holds a blueberry between her fingers.
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Julian Stähle/picture alliance via Getty Images

In general, berries have less sucrose than other fruits. But blueberries are at the higher end of the berry list. One cup of blueberries comes out to 15 grams of simple sugars. That same amount provides almost 30% of your daily vitamin K recommendation.

Remember that when you eat blueberries, you aren’t just consuming sugar. You’re also eating antioxidants that improve brain health. Research in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that flavonoids in blueberries may decrease cognitive decline. Because blueberries provide antioxidants that remove stress from the brain, they may help people stay sharp.

Strawberries Have Less Sucrose Than Other Berries

Freshly picked strawberries are stored in blue containers at Garelja Bros Strawberry Farm.
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Sandra Mu/Getty Images

With less than one gram of sugar per strawberry, they may seem like a low-sugar fruit. But let’s be real; few people eat only one strawberry. It’s more accurate to measure strawberries by cups, which raises the amount to seven grams. That’s still lower than many other fruits.

With their high amounts of potassium and vitamin C, strawberries are a natural anti-inflammatory. Not only are they slow to digest, but they slow down the digestion of other foods as well. A study from The British Journal of Nutrition indicates that strawberries can regulate blood sugar and insulin that way.

Plums Improve Your Blood Sugar

A baker places sliced plums on a cake to put in the oven.
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Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Plums aren’t spared from the high sugar fruit group. A single plum offers around eight grams of sugar, and a cup doubles that amount. Despite having many carbs as well, plums don’t cause blood sugar spikes, according to the World Journal of Diabetes. In fact, they produce a hormone that helps to regulate blood glucose levels.

There is also some evidence that plums combat metabolic syndrome. In 2012, scientists for the Texas AgriLife Research suggested that plums may ward off obesity. Not only do plums lower blood glucose, but they also reduce inflammation that’s related to metabolic syndrome.

Lemons Are The Least Sweet Of All

Organic lemons lie on display at a Spanish producer's stand.
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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

When most people think “sweet fruit,” they probably don’t consider lemons. These sour fruits have less sugar than most others. A typical lemon has less than two grams of sucrose, which adds up to only five grams per cup. It’s no wonder that lemonade requires sugar!

The American Diabetes Association lists lemon as a superfood for its high amounts of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. There’s a myth that lemons contain more sugar than strawberries, which isn’t true. Lemons have less sugar and more fiber than strawberries.