Sweetness, texture and taste make almost any fruit a tempting treat. And that can be good because fruit provides the nutrients we need. It’s why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends two servings per day.
But some kinds of fruit are more nutritious than others. So if you’ve ever wondered which fruits don’t stand up to the hype, here are the less nutritious fruits that dietitians recommend reducing in your diet, especially if you have diabetes.
1. Pass on pre-made fruit juices or store-bought smoothies
Cold-pressed fruit juices may be a convenient way to get your daily fruit intake, but they can raise some red flags once they get into your system.
Most commercial juices contain an excessive amount of added sugar. “Even if they don’t contain added sugar many of these pre-made juices and store-bought blended smoothie drinks can really spike your blood sugar,” says dietitian Jennifer Hyland, RD, CSP, LD.
The reason is that the fiber in whole fruits is what keeps your blood sugar stable and reduces the danger of it spiking too high. In many pre-made juices and smoothies however, most of the fiber is commonly removed. And what you’re left with is just a lot of sugar.
“It’s much better to chew your fruits,” Hyland says.
Keeping your fruits whole or blending them at home ensures you’re preserving their real original nutritional potential.
If a lack of time is the reason you buy store bought juices or smoothies, try pre-making a batch of juice for the week made from fresh fruit in your own mixer or blender. You can also pre-prep your smoothies, freeze and re-blend them with ice or frozen fruit when you’re ready to have a healthier, just-as-convenient option.
“If you’re going to buy a cold-pressed juice, make sure it’s mostly made with vegetables,” she suggests. “And make sure you pair it with a handful of nuts or another healthy fat and protein to stabilize your blood sugar.”
2. Limit dried fruit
Dried cherries, apricots, berries and cranberries are convenient in many ways but it’s important to pay attention to the food label and the portion size.
Most dried fruits have added sugars that increase their calories and also spike your blood sugar.
Drying fruit removes most of their water content. Water (and fiber) are what help to fill you up in the first place. You might feel a need to eat more of them. When it comes to portion sizes, ¼ cup of dried fruit is the sugar equivalent of 1-2 pieces of whole fruit.
You can indulge in dried fruit occasionally, say in a trail mix when you’re out on a hike. But make sure to choose those with no added sugar. Remember your best bet is still fresh fruit.
3. Avoid fruit that’s canned
“Unless it’s packed in water, canned fruit contains extra calories from the juice it sits in,” Hyland says. “The fruit also loses much of its flavor because it’s saturated with liquid.”
It’s also easier to eat more canned fruit than fresh fruit at one sitting. When you take the time to prepare your food, you tend to eat more slowly. This means you’re more likely to take the time to appreciate and enjoy it, and not accidentally over-eat.
4. Go for grapes (a.k.a. “nature’s candy”) in moderation
“Grapes are so sweet and delicious it’s no wonder they’ve earned this title,” Hyland says.
While grapes also do have nutrients they’re also high in sugar and low in fiber.
“It’s dangerously easy to overeat them and that can have negative consequences on your health,“ she advises. “Be careful not to sit down with a whole bag, or you’ll get a mega-dose of natural sugars that will raise your blood sugar.”
Instead, she recommends portioning or separating the vines ahead of time and only pulling out single portions to eat at a time.
Another way to control the continuous popping of grapes into your mouth is by freezing them. This gives you a sweet treat that takes longer to eat, so you won’t eat as many. It’s also a great snack for hotter months.
Again, it’s always best to pair any fruit with a protein source, such as a handful of nuts or spoonful of nut butter to help prevent a spike of sugar in your bloodstream.
Use these tips to get the most from your two daily servings of fruit. You can still enjoy the fruits you love, but note how fast their sweetness makes you eat them — and try to keep them in moderation.
“Following these guidelines will definitely help you keep both your metabolism and blood sugar in check,” Hyland says.