It may surprise you, but here at IQS, we encourage one or two small pieces of whole fruit a day.
But before you reach for that dried-apricot bliss ball, here’s the not-so-fine print. Dried and juice versions of your favourite fruits are usually little more than super-concentrated sources of sugar, with the water or fibre removed (and often processed with extra fructose for good measure!)
While eating whole fruit slows down digestion so the fructose doesn’t hit the liver all at once, the same cannot be said for fibre-stripped fruit juice. Similarly, although dried fruit still contains all the fibre, the lack of water means we’re not satisfied as quickly and eat more. Could you eat eight dried apricots in a row? Easily. Would you ever sit down to a whole bag of fresh apricots? We didn’t think so…
So how far will your fruit bowl take you? Let’s take a bite.
1. Comparing apples with apples.
On average, one fresh apple (with skin), weighs about 150g and has 15.48g of sugar. While this is a relatively high level, you’ll also be crunching into fibre, vitamins and healthy antioxidants.
Compare that to 150g of dried apple, which features more than 85g of sugar – without even factoring in any additional sugary glazes – and it’s little surprise that this snack should be hung out to dry.
But before you take a sip of juice to cool down, consider that the equivalent amount of apple in liquid (150ml) has 12g of sugar. Consume a more realistic 250ml cup and it’s almost 24g (six teaspoons) – the same as a glass of coke!
2. The grape debate.
Grapes are a naturally higher-fructose fruit, and a tiny 150g of red or green seedless grapes (just over half a cup) has almost 24g of sugar.
While this is far from ideal, the fruit fares even worse when dried, with the same amount of sultanas practically all sugar – 144g to be exact.
Your saving grace with liquid grapes comes in the form of red wine. A good glass contains virtually no fructose – due to the alcohol fermentation process.
3. All about apricots.
Fresh apricots can be a sensible choice for those looking for lower-fructose options. One 35g apricot features approximately 3g of sugar.
Contrast this to 150g of dried apricots (the realistic couple of handfuls you might snack on during the day) which contains close to 80g of sugar.
And if you’re contemplating cooking your apricot chicken from a can, keep in mind these tinned, syrupy versions are about 10 per cent sugar, too.
4. Blind dates.
Even fresh dates have a naturally high sugar content (96g per 150g) so we recommend limiting them and opting for lower-fructose fruits instead.
Popular in many healthy raw desserts, dried medjool dates are even sweeter, with the same amount sitting at more than 99g of sugar (approximately 23 teaspoons).
Date syrup has 91g of sugar in every 150g.
5. Don’t go bananas.
One small, fresh 100g banana may be packed with potassium, but it also delivers 12g (or 3 teaspoons of sugar). Which is why we generally use only half at a time.
Meanwhile, 100g of dried bananas usually feature 35g of sugar (plus a heap of nasty preservatives).
And your favourite banana smoothie? Well a large cupful of one brand’s 610ml drink can “boost” your sugar levels by 67g!
6. Can you cram cranberries?
A popular option for treating urinary tract infections, fresh cranberries have a lovely tart flavour that doesn’t encourage sweet cravings and a modest sugar content of 6g per 150g.
Things go pear-shaped with dried cranberries though, with 150g of the dehydrated fruit delivering more than 95g of sugar.
Classic cranberry juice is also a red-flag for those trying to quit sugar – with one 250ml glass containing 30g (more than six teaspoons) of sugar.
The winner: Always opt for fresh, whole fruits over dried and juiced versions. And to get more value, choose options like berries which naturally contain less fructose.
We originally published this post in March 2016. We updated it in June 2017.