Including more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet is an easy way to improve your health. The naturally occurring sugar in fruits and vegetables is buffered by the important vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber that benefit your health. But if you're watching your sugar intake for weight-loss reasons or because you have diabetes, some fruits and vegetables are better than others.
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Some citrus fruits, including grapefruits, lemons and limes, are good low-sugar fruit choices with between 0.4 and 6.2 grams of sugar per 100 grams of fruit. Indicated by their sweeter taste, oranges are a little higher in sugar with 9.2 grams per 100-gram portion. Berries are another smart choice for low-sugar fruits; blueberries have 7.2 grams of sugar per 100 grams, blackberries have 8.1 grams and strawberries have 5.8 grams. Cantaloupe, plums, tomatoes, avocados and guavas are other low-sugar fruit options.
Most vegetables are low in sugar, which is evident by their lack of sweetness. When choosing low-sugar vegetables, non-starchy varieties are your best bet. Go for leafy greens, celery, cucumber, squash, carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, artichokes, leeks, onions, radishes, okra, eggplant, asparagus, beans, beets and broccoli.
Using the Glycemic Index
Some fruits and vegetables may be lower in sugar, but they may still negatively affect your blood sugar levels. You can use the glycemic index to figure out which fruits and veggies will have the greatest effect on your blood sugar. The glycemic index rates carbohydrate foods on a scale of 1 to 100 based on how much the food will affect your blood sugar levels. The lower the number the better. Fruits low on the glycemic index include apples, grapefruits, pears, dates and prunes. All non-starchy vegetables are low on the glycemic index.
Fruits to Avoid
Certain fruits are considerably higher in sugar, and some may be high on the glycemic index. If you're watching your sugar intake or working to manage your blood sugar, you should limit or avoid these. Dried fruits are a concentrated source of sugars, with dried mango providing a hefty 73 grams of sugar per 100 grams of fruit. Bananas are high-sugar fruits with 15.6 grams of sugar per 100 grams. Sweet cherries, grapes and pineapple are also high in sugar. Bananas, grapes and watermelon are all moderate- to high-glycemic fruits, which means they can raise your blood sugar.
Vegetables to Avoid
When choosing blood sugar-friendly vegetables, avoid starchy veggies like potatoes, corn and sweet potatoes. These vegetables have considerably higher glycemic index values -- sweet potatoes have an average rating of 70, and a baked russet potato has an average rating of 111. Compare that with pure glucose, which has a rating of 100, and you can see how these foods can potentially wreak havoc on your blood sugar.