Sugar in fruits: What matters for health

Some claim fruit isn't healthy due to its sugar content. But the truth is, fruit is good for you.  

While fruit does contain naturally occurring sugar, there are many other health benefits of fruit such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals – plant-produced compounds with health benefits.  

Fruit provides many health benefits, including: 

  • Immune support 
  • Cancer prevention 
  • Healthy skin 
  • Healthy heart 
  • Supports eyesight 
  • Supports healthy aging 
  • Improves gut health 
  • Lowers cholesterol 

Natural versus added sugars 

It's best to limit total daily added sugars whenever possible – like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave and sucrose (table sugar). Whole fruit doesn't contain any added sugars. All the sugar in whole fruit found in the produce section of the grocery store is natural sugar. 

Generally, fruit tends to have less total sugar content than processed foods like energy bars, breakfast cereal, coffee sweetener, fruit juices and canned fruits. 

All fruits provide health benefits, so eat your favorites. You can also find a new fruit to try to increase your diet diversity. 

Some fun fruits to try: 

  • Dragon fruit 
  • Cherimoya 
  • Passion fruit 
  • Guava 
  • Mulberries  
  • Acai 

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate, half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. You should aim to get 2 cups equivalent of fruit each day. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends a minimum of 3 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables to limit your cancer risk and overall good health.  

Fruit contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals which all have benefits for overall good health and limit cancer risk. You can talk with the University Health Center registered dietitian for more information on ways to include fruits in your diet. 

Want to learn how to build a healthy diet? Get more tips like this by scheduling a nutrition counseling visit with the health center dietitian. The first visit is covered by student fees. Call 402.472.5000 to schedule.