Several eggs against a blue background as an example of a food for a low fructose diet

Low Fructose Diet: Recommended Foods

Medically reviewed on Sept 20, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

Fructose is a natural sugar found in most fruits and vegetables, as well as honey and agave syrup, some processed foods, and table sugar. Given its prevalence, foods high in fructose content are staples of many Western diets. However, it may cause certain health risks, particularly for people who experience fructose malabsorption. [1]

High fructose intake has also been linked to both a rise in obesity and metabolic disorders.2 Accordingly, many people opt for a low fructose diet to support their overall health. If you’re considering a low fructose diet, keep reading to discover our top tips and recommendations, as well as more information on whether a low fructose diet may be right for you.

What are the Dangers of Fructose?

During the 1980s, North American food processors largely replaced sucrose—table sugar—with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), particularly in carbonated sodas. As the consumption of HFCS sodas increased, researchers observed a rise in obesity and cardiovascular disease. [2]

Research has also found that fructose may induce insulin resistance (a precursor of diabetes), as well as hypertriglyceridemia (which is characterized by a high level of fats in the blood) and hypertension (high blood pressure). [2]

In 2008—28 years following the widespread introduction of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) —the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey observed that fructose comprised 10% of the average American’s diet. [2]

That said, low levels of fructose may be beneficial to overall health. More specifically, in small amounts, fructose can [2]:

  • Decrease appetite
  • Provide energy during exercise
  • Reduce glucose levels in the blood

What is Fructose Malabsorption?

Fructose malabsorption occurs when the small intestine cannot properly absorb fructose into the bloodstream. Instead, undigested fructose remains in the gut for longer periods of time, and bacteria flock to it.

The result mimics many of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including [1]:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Cramping
  • Gas
  • Constipation

Unabsorbed and undigested fructose can also increase water content in the colon, thereby increasing bowel movements.

If you believe you have fructose malabsorption, visit your healthcare provider. They’ll be able to assess your condition using an elimination diet or fructose hydrogen breath test and prescribe a low fructose diet if appropriate. [1]

What is Hereditary Fructose Intolerance (HFI)?

HFI is a genetic disorder in which people inherit the inability to digest fructose, as well as sugar, sorbitol, and brown sugar. A deficiency in the enzyme fructose-1-phosphate aldolase causes a buildup of fructose-1-phosphate in three vital organs [1]:

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Small intestine

As a result, people with Hereditary Fructose Intolerance (HFI) can experience fructose intolerance symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and low blood sugar. If left untreated, liver and kidney damage may develop. HFI patients may also develop a distaste for sweets and fruits. [3]

Like fructose malabsorption, a low fructose diet is the primary method of treatment. [3]

How to Formulate a Low Fructose Diet

Creating a low fructose diet can be a beneficial dietary approach for individuals who have fructose malabsorption, HFI, IBS flare up, or other conditions that make it challenging for the body to process fructose properly.

This type of diet involves reducing the intake of foods and sweeteners high in fructose to manage symptoms and improve overall health. To formulate your low fructose diet, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Identify High Fructose Foods

A low fructose diet limits foods with excess fructose, which include [3]:

  • Foods with a sugar content that’s more than 50% fructose
  • Foods with more than three grams of fructose
  • Foods that are high in fructans

Foods high in natural fructose content include certain fruits, such as [1,4]:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Watermelon
  • Fig
  • Mango
  • Cherries
  • Bananas
  • Boysenberry
  • Grapefruit
  • Guava
  • Nectarine
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate

Some vegetables, like artichokes, sugar snap peas, and asparagus also contain moderate to high levels of fructose. Additional vegetables to avoid include [1,4]:

  • Beetroot
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Garlic
  • Leek bulb
  • Onion
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Scallions
  • Shallots
  • Tomato ketchup or paste

Beyond produce, people on a low fructose diet should also limit [1,4]:

  • Highly processed foods
  • Honey
  • Agave
  • Sodas
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Garlic and/or onion salt
  • Marinated, seasoned, or breaded meats containing wheat, garlic, or onion
  • Wheat, rye, and barley bread products, tortillas, or pasta
  • Flavored or sweetened milks
  • Coconut milk
  • High fructose dairy products
  • Fortified wines and rum
  • Dried fruit bars
  • High fructose desserts
  • Sweetened sauces, such as BBQ sauce, jam, pancake syrup, and relish

Step 2: Stock Your Kitchen With Low Fructose Foods

Opt for fruits and vegetables that have relatively low levels of fructose. Low fructose fruit alternatives include [4]:

  • Avocado
  • Blackberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Clementines, tangelos, and mandarin oranges
  • Cranberries
  • Coconut
  • Grapes
  • Honeydew
  • Kiwi
  • Lemon and lime
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries

Safe vegetable options for a low fructose diet include [4]:

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Arugula
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bean sprouts
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli (limit ½ cup)
  • Bok Choy, collard greens, and Swiss chard
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Celery
  • Chives
  • Chili pepper
  • Collard greens
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Olives
  • Parsnip
  • Potato and sweet potato
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Seaweed
  • Summer sqush and zucchini
  • Turnips
  • Tomato
  • Water chestnuts

ou can also incorporate plain, unprocessed meats and deli meats into your daily meals, as well as eggs, tofu, wheat-free grains and pastas, low fructose dairy products, and beverages and desserts made with glucose or cane sugar. [4]

You can include some sweeteners in your diet, too. Sweeteners that are low in fructose include [4]:

  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar/syrup
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Glucose and glucose syrups
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose (table sugar)
  • Stevia

Step 3: Incorporate Low FODMAP Foods

Like fructose, fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols carbohydrates (FODMAP) carbohydrates can be difficult to digest. In a similar fashion, the small intestine cannot properly absorb these sugars. As a result, many people with FODMAP sensitivities can experience [1,5]:

  • Digestive distress
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Flatulence

Low FODMAP and low fructose diets often overlap. Accordingly, you may benefit from limiting certain high FODMAP foods from your diet, too, like [5]:

  • Dairy-based milk, yogurt, and ice cream
  • Wheat-based products
  • Beans and lentils
  • Artichokes, asparagus, onions, and garlic
  • Apples, cherries, pears, and peaches

Instead, substitute with low FODMAP foods, such as [5]:

  • Eggs and meat
  • Brie, camembert, cheddar, and feta cheese
  • Almond milk
  • Rice, quinoa, and oats
  • Eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, and zucchini
  • Grapes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple

Adopting low FODMAP practices can reduce gastrointestinal symptoms in 86% of people with IBS or similar conditions. [5]

How to Balance Your Nutritional Needs on a Low Fructose Diet

When you're crafting a low fructose diet, it's essential to find that sweet spot where you manage your fructose intake while ensuring you're still getting all the essential nutrients your body needs to thrive.

Fortunately, you can balance your nutritional needs with your dietary needs by incorporating the following:

A Variety of Foods

Don't limit yourself to a narrow range of foods. Variety is the key to getting a diverse mix of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body craves. So, while you're watching your fructose intake, make it a point to introduce a wide array of foods into your diet. [6]

Add some color to your plate by including different low-fructose fruits and vegetables. Each hue comes with its unique set of health benefits, so don’t be afraid to mix it up. This way, you'll expose your body to a broader spectrum of nutrients. [6]


Fiber is your digestive system's best friend, regardless of dietary restrictions. It helps keep things moving smoothly, prevents constipation, and nurtures a healthy gut microbiome.7 On a low fructose diet, it's vital to choose foods that are both fiber-rich and fructose-friendly. These include:

  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Non-starchy veggies like carrots and zucchini
  • Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and gluten-free oats


Protein is essential for repairing tissues, supporting your immune system, and maintaining muscle mass. Lucky for you, there's a range of lean protein options that won't cause fructose troubles. [8]

  • Invite poultry to your plate. Unbreaded chicken and turkey are generally low in fructose. Just be mindful of any sauces or seasonings that might sneak in some hidden fructose.
  • Fish, including salmon, tuna, and cod, not only bring the protein but also deliver those all-important omega-3 fatty acids for heart and brain health.
  • For variety, consider plant-based protein sources like tofu and tempeh. They offer protein diversity and are versatile for whipping up different meals.

Healthy Fats

Don't forget about the importance of including healthy fats in your diet. These fats, like the ones found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil, play crucial roles in: [9]

  • Heart health
  • Brain function
  • Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins

Avocados, in particular, are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and can be a tasty addition to salads, sandwiches, or creamy dips. Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds, are also top-notch sources of healthy fats. Sprinkle them on yogurt or toss them into smoothies for added flavor and nutrition.

When cooking, opt for olive oil or use it as a salad dressing to boost your meals' taste while enjoying the benefits of healthy fats.


Maintaining good hydration is vital for overall health and a happy digestive system. Adequate water intake keeps your natural bodily processes—including digestion and waste elimination—running smoothly. To that end, water should be your go-to for maintaining healthy digestion and preventing uncomfortable constipation.

Aim to sip on plenty of water throughout the day. You can also consider adding herbal teas, like peppermint or ginger, to your hydration routine. These teas are caffeine-free and can provide a soothing touch for your stomach.

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IBS Flare Up: Treatment and Prevention

High FODMAP Foods: What to Know

8 Foods That Can Cause Gas

Common Fructose Intolerance Symptoms


  1. Low Fructose Diet. University of Michigan. URL. Accessed September 12, 2023.
  2. Health implications of fructose consumption: A review of recent data. Nutr Metab (Lond). Published November 4, 2010. URL. Accessed September 12, 2023.
  3. Fructose Intolerance, Hereditary. NORD. Published July 8, 2007. URL. Accessed September 12, 2023.
  4. Low fructose diet. MNGI. Published 2019. URL. Accessed September 12, 2023.
  5. FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know. Johns Hopkins Medicine. URL. Accessed September 12, 2023.
  6. McManus K. Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the colors of the rainbow. Harvard Health Publishing. Published April 25, 2019. URL. Accessed September 12, 2023.
  7. Fiber, digestion, and health. Cornell. URL. Accessed September 12, 2023.
  8. Carbone J, et al. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Published May 22, 2019. URL. Accessed September 12, 2023.
  9. Why do I need to include fat in my diet?. UC Davis. URL. Accessed September 12, 2023.
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