Ask the Diva: Does the Sugar in Fruit “Count” as Sugar?

Fruit is not considered a culptrit in terms of excessive sugar intake. Nutrition Diva explains why.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
2-minute read

Q. In your book Secrets for a Healthy Diet, you write that sugar from fruits and dairy products does not have to be counted in your daily allotment of sugar. Could you explain why not?

A. The “allotment” you’re talking about refers to added sugars—concentrated sweeteners like granulated sugar, honey, maple syrup, cane syrup, or concentrate fruit juices that are added (either by us or by food manufacturers) to foods. These added sugars, even the so-called “natural” ones, supply plenty of calories but no nutritional value. And when over-consumed, they contribute to weight gain, diabetes, and many other diseases.

See also: How Sugar Affects your Body

In Secrets for a Healthy Diet, I recommend limiting your intake of added sugar to no more than 5-10% of your total calories but I also said that you don’t have to count the natural sugars in fruits and dairy products toward that total. It’s not that the sugars in fruits and milk don’t affect the body—they do. But, for one thing, the sugar that you get from fruit and dairy is accounted for separately. For example, in addition to limiting added sugars to 5-10% of calories, I also suggest limiting fruit to 2 to 4 servings a day.

See also: Is Fruit Good For You?

More to the point, these whole foods (which contain other valuable nutrients in addition to natural sugars) are generally not the culprit in terms of excessive sugar intake. That dubious honor belongs to sweetened beverages, candy, and desserts—all foods that contain lots of added sugars.

See also: How to Reduce Your Added Sugar Intake

Fruit basket photo from Shutterstock

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.