The most common question I get when someone is diagnosed with fructose intolerance is “do I have to cut out all fruit?” The answer simply, is no. The key foods of concern in fructose intolerance are:

  • Fructose-rich foods or any fructose-containing food in large amount
  • Foods with high fructose-to-glucose ratio (glucose enhances absorption of fructose)
  • Foods with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)- not common in Australia
  • Foods rich in sorbitol (what we call a ‘sugar alcohol’ which can cause a lot of gas and distension in the gut)
  • Foods rich in fructans or other FODMAPs (problematic only in some persons with FM*)- we will go into FODMAPS in another post, as these are the key problematic foods in IBS.

The usual symptoms of fructose intolerance are similar to any gut disruption, including bloating, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence and/or stomach pain.

So how can we reduce these ever so unpleasant symptoms?

  1. Only eat problematic foods in small amounts at each sitting (e.g. not more than 1 standard piece of fruit per sitting).
  2. Consume problematic foods together with other foods (as glucose and amino acids have been shown to increase absorption).
  3. Modify consumption of foods rich in fructans as they can induce similar symptoms.

So which foods are particularly high in fructose or have a large load per serve?

Apples, pears, honey, dried fruit, lychees, mango, cherries, grapes, and watermelon.

Berries and stone fruit are not as high in fructose, although they do contain sorbitol and other sugar alcohols which can bring about similar symptoms if had in large amounts.

The more favourable fruit options include: ripe bananas, jackfruit, kiwi fruit, passion fruit, pineapple, rhubarb, tamarillo, grapes, and passionfruits.

For those that are particularly sensitive, you can buy glucose tablets to consume at the same time as fructose rich foods, and this can help with the absorption of the fructose. You also can consume a smaller portion of the higher fructose containing foods to ease the load and aid absorption.

Fructans are found in wheat containing foods, they however need to be had in a very large dose, in order to induce symptoms. For this reason, there is no reason why wheat products should be cut out of the diet. What this does mean, is that if you are particularly sensitive, having honey and sliced peaches on a piece of whole wheat toast, would not be the best option.

As you can see, fructose intolerance does not mean you can not eat fruit, it just means you have to pick the right ones!

For more help structuring a healthy eating plan with fructose intolerance, I would highly recommend you see your local dietitian (APD) to help determine a more personalised plan for your self.

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19 Responses to Fructose intolerance- and you can still eat fruit!

  1. betty hare says:

    I HAVE BEEN EATING TRADITIONAL BARLEY AND OATS AND PROTEIN 1 SINCE THEY HAVE BOTH CAME OUT. IAM A TYPE 2 DIABETIC AND HAVE HAD FANTASTIC SUGAR READINGS. I NO LONGER WILL BE ABLE TO EAT THEM AS I AM NOW ON A GLUTON FREE DIET FOR A VERY BAD IRRATABLE BOWL.
    I AM NOW NOT ALLOWED TO EAT BARLEY AND OATS. ARE YOU GOING TO WORK ON ANY GLUTON FREE CEREALS. OH PLEASE DO.
    BETTY HARE

    • Martina says:

      HI Betty, that is a shame that you can no longer tolerate our products. Will keep you posted when we have a gluten free alternative for you and I hope your irritable bowl does improve over time!

    • Joan Selth says:

      Betty, I too loved my CSIRO b Barley& Oats breakfast and have just been told I am Gluton free diet dietician said I may still be able to eat Uncle Toby’s oats, I found I had no problem with oats so continue to have oats every morning, good luck. Joan

  2. Rosalind says:

    Reading this article made me think just how addicted to sugary tastes we are.

    I mean, if we’re fructose intolerant (and I think the stats I’ve read are only based on those people who have been tested – not on society in general), why would you take glucose so you can absorb the fructose. Isn’t the body saying this stuff is not good for me?

    We’re hooked on sugar, my friends. We use it to ‘reward’ ourselves for ….. ?? Give up sugar of any sort and you health will improve dramatically. That’s a guarantee.

    • Sarah says:

      Give up all sugar? Sugar in fruit (healthy food)? That’s easier said then done. And anyway, does it matter that much? Really?

      I like sweet things. That’s no crime.

      I also reward myself for working hard.

      It’s not some crazy sin, like you are making it seem.

  3. Lois Fahleson says:

    I see that grapes are on both the favorable and unfavorable lists??

  4. Danielle says:

    My son is fructose intolerant and despite your lists above cant eat any berries including blueberries, grapes all of which are supposed to be ok.

  5. Rohan says:

    I am experimenting to see if I have Fructose Malabsorbtion. I have a list of food that i can eat, which was given to me by my Dietitian , and a list of those foods to be careful of- not too much in a short period of time etc and so forth.

    Grapes are allowable- but I am finding a lot of articles that say they should be avoided.

    So what is it-yes or no to Grapes ?

  6. Mandi says:

    My 17 year old daughter has recently been diagnosed as having fructose malabsorption after many years of terrible tummy problems. Where can I buy the tablets you mention as she is very depressed about being unable to eat many fruits & there are so many foods with onion in them that she’s becoming scared to eat anything due to the uncomfortable side effects. Are there any recipe books for people with fructose malabsorption, there seem to be loads for wheat intolerance and barely any for fructose?

    • Suzanne says:

      I’m not sure which tablets you are referring to, but your daughter may certainly benefit from taking a probiotic supplement to help promote the growth of healthy beneficial bacteria in her gut. Fructose malabsorption does not mean your daughter needs to avoid every food containing fructose, but those with excess fructose or high levels of fructans (chains of fructose). There are a number of books now with recipes and eating plans for the low FODMAPs diet. Although she may not need the full FODMAPs diet, these would be a helpful resource for your daughter. I recommend you check out shepherd works.com.au. This is a dietetic practice headed by Dr Sue Shepherd who specialises in gastrointestinal conditions. She has a number of books for sale on the site including the Food Intolerance Management Plan, co-authored with Dr Peter Gibson.

      • Sophia says:

        My doctor told me that if you take probiotics after consuming fructose it actually feeds that, rather than relieving symptoms, so I avoid all together. It has taken me about 2 years to adjust my diet and not feel down about it but it is so worthwhile. Onion is the tricky one – but worth avoiding or I feel sick and lethargic for days. Best to flavour with garlic oil (rather than consume the flesh) and eat wheat free. Obviously everyone reacts slightly differently though so a bit of trial and error. I went to Sue Sheppards clinic and did not find my consult helpful at all. However the shopping guide book is a great start and then jumping online and reading forums. Just be sure to reference Australian sites as US food is filled with fructose (making travel there a bit of a nightmare) so you want to look at info that is relevant here. Good luck!

    • Rowan says:

      The tablets are called Glucodin and can be bought in tablet and powder form at chemists. Lucozade (original flavour) can be bought from supermarkets, and is similar to Glucodin, except in the form of a drink.

  7. Danielle says:

    My 6 year old son was diagnosed to be lactose and fructose intollerant, last week we were told he is also sucrose intollerant as well. I am really struggling to find things for him to eat beyong meat and some vegies – any help would be greatly appreciated. He cant tollerate any fructose, some lactose and not 100% sure of the sucrose yet. All the lactose free products exclduing the milk like the yogurts are full of sucrose ….. help

    • Hayley says:

      Hi Danielle, I just wanted to comment, my son is also showing signs of being fructose intolerant as well as reacting to dairy.
      I make him chocolate biscuits and use a good quality cocoa powder with no added sugar, as well as dark chocolate and I use substitutes for butter and sugar elsewhere in the recipe. May I ask, how did you get your son diagnosed? Good luck.

  8. Roz says:

    I have fructose malabsorption, wheat intolerance gluten, dairy, and soy intolerance, can you please tell me which cooking book or meal plan book may help, it is really difficult after eating every thing for 60+ years I new I wasn’t well all this time but it took a long time for Dr’s to work it out. Do you know of any help groups that would be of any assistance.

  9. Kara says:

    I just realised I wrote grapes in both columns, they should be in the less preferable as they are typically high in fructose (at least when they are ripe to eat).

  10. Leah says:

    Is there/does anyone know a splastly diet (items/recipes allowed, in particular restaurant eating..due to much travelling)
    for GI problems by same person, as follows:
    1. fructose malabsorption
    2. Celiac
    3. Lactose intolerance
    4. Shell fish allergies
    5. IBS diagnosed in April and lastly
    6. DIVERTICULOSIS

    Any help would be appreciated.
    THANK YOU SO MUCH.
    L

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