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The Sugar Content & Composition of Fruits & Vegetables

Updated April 17, 2017

The sugar content in some fruits and vegetables---canned, frozen, raw, or cooked---might be surprising. Methods of processing, fibre content and nutritive value are all key factors to consider when weighing the percentage of sugar in the diet. Although, it might be tempting to eliminate fruits or vegetables with high sugar content, remember that natural sugars stimulate the body's metabolism. Whether it's pineapples, cranberries, spinach or sweet potatoes, natural sugars may not be the enemy.

Natural Sugars

Fructose, glucose and sucrose, which give fruits and vegetables their naturally sweet taste, are converted to glycogen, a valuable fuel for the body. High-fructose corn syrup is a manufactured sugar additive that increases triglyceride or fat levels in the bloodstream. Processed sugars flood the body with large quantities of manufactured corn-based sugars, which become trapped in the bloodstream, clogging the arteries, causing high and low energy spikes. Processed sugar has no nutrients, vitamins, or soluble fibres. The glycemic index, a rating for sugar absorption in the bloodstream, rates these processed sugars at higher rates than organic sugars. Higher glycemic index rates can be warning indicators for the onset of diabetes. The body recognises naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetables, releasing their energy steadily.

Fruits

Fresh raspberries are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and beta-carotene. The protein in raspberries is beneficial to blood vessels and the immune system. Three ounces contain only 4 grams of sugar. Three ounces of cranberries, an anti-cancer agent and immune booster, possess high levels of vitamin A, potassium and calcium, and 12 grams of sugar. One large apple and 85.1gr of cherries have 23 grams and 22 grams of sugar, respectively, but a low glycemic index. The lower the index, the more time the body has to metabolise the fruits prior to storage as fat cells. A large orange and an 227gr serving of freshly squeezed orange juice each contains 23 grams of sugar. They are also rich in calcium, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin A.

Vegetables

Vegetables are complex carbohydrates, which provide a form of sugar that the body processes differently than the sugar in fruits. Carrots have 6.6 grams of sugar in a 85gr serving. They contain significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, beta-carotene and calcium. Peas, which are rich in protein and potassium, contain 5.6 grams of sugar per 85.gr serving. Onions and garlic stack salads and other foods with potassium and calcium. Onions have 4 grams of sugar and garlic has only 2 grams. Potatoes, are high starch content but low in sugar. They also have large amounts of potassium, iron and magnesium. Frozen corn contains 2.6 grams of sugar; fresh corn contains 5.8 grams. Both are rich in potassium, phosphorus, calcium and protein, essential minerals and amino acids.

Considerations

The corn syrup in canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can significantly increase the amount of sugar in the food. A 1-cup serving of prepacked sweetened applesauce contains 88 grams of sugar, while a 1 cup of apples reduced in a blender contain only 23 grams. The USDA reports that canned sweet potatoes contain 15.4 grams; a fresh sweet potato contains only 5.7 grams.

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About the Author

Suann Schuster has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. She served as an item writer for McGraw-Hill Education and a curriculum author. Schuster now provides content for Science and Massage Therapy texts for McGraw-Hill, as well as for test banks. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Sedona.