When it comes to going sugar-free or embracing a lower sugar lifestyle, the topic of fruit (& low fructose fruits) usually confuses many and can cause a many domestic arguments (I’ve seen it happen!).
As an overall ine, fruit is absolutely healthy but it’s worth knowing what your low fructose fruits are and understanding a healthy approach.
This will help you avoid overeating fructose in fruit form which can drive more sweetness cravings and have negative health impacts.
Read: To fruit or not to fruit
Can you eat fruit whilst living sugar-free?
- Yes you can. Plenty of people happily and healthily live mostly without refined sugar but with a little natural fruit in their diet. I eat all fruit here and there but nothing regularly as a habit and opt for low fructose fruits where I can, trying to eat seasonally and location based (e.g. what is native to that area).
- Fruit does contain sugar in the form of fructose, but the fibre that comes with fruit (think skins etc.) and nutrients help your body slow down the fructose release on your body (& liver) and process it more effectively.
- Fruit can impact your cravings (subjectively!). I’ve had some say a few berries bring on sugar cravings and others who can eat a banana first thing and be fine for the rest of the day. This is not so simple and depends on many other factors (habits, diet history etc.). However, in general a higher intake of fruit can correlate to an increased presence of cravings.
To put it simply: A banana, a smoothie and a dried fruit bar might make you want cake and chocolate more than if you were eating mostly veg during a day.
Thus for tastebud recalibration purposes and general sweet tooth reduction, it does pay off to know your low fructose fruits (especially if you’re currently eating a fair few portions a day) so you can make a few less sweet swaps and really trust that fruit isn’t going to put back on some sugar train.
What are the low fructose fruits?
Starting with the lowest and getting higher, here are some common low fructose fruits:
- Tomatoes and avocados (yes technically fruits!)
- Lemons and limes
- Cantaloupe melon
- Raspberries, blackberries & strawberries
- Kiwi fruit
What are the higher fructose fruits?
Starting with the highest and most sweet natural eats:
- Dried fruits (Dates, raisins, figs etc.)
My recommendations for eating high or low fructose fruits
1. Make some appealing swaps (appealing to you that is!). For example:
- Try berries on your porridge instead of banana
- Snack on a clementine instead of dried fruit or grapes
- Make your own fructose-free muesli and then add some fresh berries
- Try Kiwi fruit instead of mango if you’re feeling tropical!
- Try green mango instead of yellow (it’s crazily lower in sugar!)
2. Reduce your portion or use of higher fructose fruits (to reduce total fructose):
- Use half a banana in a smoothie or try half a banana with some berries
- Slash the use of dates or any dried fruit in recipes (sometimes I’ve sweetened a whole recipe with one date!)
- Be conscious of your portions of grapes & watermelon which are both very easy to eat a lot of
- Avoid dried fruits in savoury dishes on a regular basis e.g coronation chicken
- Use higher fructose fruits more as special treats or as dessert substitutes e.g. this nutty banana fudge is a good one.
- Eat higher fructose fruits more when in season or native to that environment (e.g. somewhere tropical)
3. Slow down the sugar release by eating fruit with some protein & fat. For example:
- Add some nut butter to apple (total yum!)
- Have with some full fat natural yoghurt
- Eat with a main meal rather than as a stand alone snack
Should you eat fruit on a sugar-detox?
There’s no doubt about it, when you really limit or remove fructose from your diet, the physical sugar cravings (note not emotional!) tend to die down.
Even just 3-5 days can have an impact and force you to investigate non-fruit based snacks if they’ve become your default. Thus it’s great for just finding new things and experimenting.
However, this isn’t necessary and can be of the restrictive nature which can backfire. I suggest you review this sugar addiction quiz on your sugar habits and then read about gradual vs. cold turkey approaches to decide how effective a lower fructose fruits strategy will be to you.
And of course, comment below if any specific questions – I would love to help!
Please share if someone you know is confused by fruit!