The natural sugar found in fruit is called fructose. Some fruits have a low amount of fructose, while others have a higher amount. For those watching their sugar intake, fruits high in natural sugar should be eaten in moderation. Despite a higher sugar content, however, fruits high in natural sugar are still healthier than foods that contain refined sugar, and many boast a variety of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
Fructose, the natural sugar found in fruit, is a monosaccharide, or single sugar, that has the same chemical formula as glucose (table sugar) but a different molecular structure. Fructose has a lower glycemic index than glucose, meaning that it causes less of a rise in blood sugar. This is because fructose is not absorbed into the bloodstream like glucose, but is processed in the liver instead. Although fructose contains the same number of calories as regular sugar, it is also the sweetest of all natural sugars.
The easiest way to discern whether a fruit has a high sugar content is by the taste--the sweeter the taste, the higher the sugar content. According to Womenfitness.net, fruits very high in natural sugar include dates, bananas, figs, persimmons, grapes, cherries and pomegranates. Dried fruits will usually have more natural sugar than fresh fruits because the dehydration process removes the water normally found in the fruit, leaving the sugar in a highly concentrated little parcel.
People who are diabetic, obese or watching their sugar intake should be cautious about consuming fruits that are high in natural sugar. Although natural sugars found in fruits are superior to processed sugars, eating too much sugar can raise blood sugar levels and promote weight gain. According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, fructose reduces circulating insulin, leptin and ghrelin levels, hormones that control satiety and appetite. Similarly to other foods that have a high sugar content, fruits high in natural sugar should be eaten in moderation.
While consuming an excess of fruits high in natural sugar is not recommended, these fruits should hardly be avoided. Sugar is an important component of the human diet and a valuable, traditional source of food energy, and it is natural to consume some sugar every day. Fruits that are high in natural sugar are also rich sources of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Although some fruits are higher in natural sugar than others, even fruits very high in natural sugar are healthier than foods that contain refined sugar.
For those trying to reduce their sugar intake, there are plenty of fruits low in natural sugar and high in nutrients. Berries, particularly strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries, all have low sugar content and are packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Additionally, melons such as cantaloupe and watermelon have two of the lowest sugar contents of any fruit. Lemons and limes are also low in sugar and are an excellent source of vitamin C.