Low FODMAP requirements for fruit are among the most difficult to remember. That’s because many fruits, including apples, contain at least two FODMAPs. The presence of a second FODMAP changes the calculation (literally), making it difficult to simply group fruit into low and high fructose categories. Here we’ll look specifically at apples, which are a challenge for many people, even those without chronic digestive drama.
Apples are not low FODMAP. On average, a medium apple contains 6.3 grams of excess fructose, which far exceeds the suggested .15 grams for the low FODMAP diet. In addition, a medium apple contains .93 grams of sorbitol. This surpasses the .20 grams of sorbitol recommended by low FODMAP researchers.
In this post, we’ll go over the FODMAPs found in apples and how they differ by apple variety. We’ll start by breaking down the fructose content in five of the most popular types of apples in the United States. Then we’ll look at some estimates for the sorbitol content of those apples, too.
Are Apples FODMAP Friendly?
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Apples are definitely not FODMAP friendly. In fact, they’re one of the worst fruits for low FODMAPers, since they contain high amounts of both fructose and sorbitol.
In this section, we’ll focus on the FODMAP fructose. I’ve written before about the overall fructose content in apples. That post was geared specifically toward those needing to eat a low fructose diet, for fructose malabsorption or other reasons.
In those cases, total fructose content, and its contribution to total sugar content, are primary concerns. But with the FODMAP plan, the glucose-to-fructose ratio is more important. That’s what we’ll look at here.
Fructose and Glucose Content in Apples
Low FODMAP guidelines are based on the idea of “free” or “excess” fructose. This is the amount of fructose in a food compared to the amount of glucose.
If a food has more glucose than fructose, we say it has no excess fructose. If a food has more fructose than glucose, we say it has excess fructose. It’s the amount of excess fructose that determines whether a food is low FODMAP.
Low FODMAP standards typically suggest keeping excess fructose to .40 grams or less per serving. However, that’s only if fructose is the only FODMAP present in a food. If a second FODMAP is also present in a food, then excess fructose should be .15 grams or less.1
Since apples contain both fructose and sorbitol, they should have .15 grams or less of free fructose to be low FODMAP. Unfortunately, no apples meet this standard.
The rest of this section contains several tables showing the glucose, fructose and excess fructose content of popular apple varieties. As you’ll see, these numbers vary quite a bit; but, no apple at any normal, adult human serving size can be classified as low FODMAP.
Excess Fructose in Gala Apples
Gala apples are one of the most popular apple varieties in the United States. They typically have a yellowish peel with blushes or patches of deep red. Galas are firm apples, mildly sweet with a slight floral taste. The interior of the apple has a light tan or yellow appearance.2
Glucose, Fructose and Excess Fructose in Gala Apples
|1 cup, sliced||N/A||1.8||6.5||4.7|
Excess Fructose in Golden Delicious Apples
Golden Delicious apples have a yellow to light green peel and a white interior. These are sweet apples with a bit of crisp. They’re not as firm as Fuji apples, but not as soft as some other apple varieties. Despite the name, Golden Delicious apples aren’t related to the popular Red Delicious apple.4
Glucose, Fructose and Excess Fructose in Golden Delicious Apples
|1 cup, sliced||N/A||2.0||6.6||4.6|
As shown here, excess fructose content is similar for Gala and Golden Delicious apples. Keep in mind, though, that different apple varieties grow to different sizes. Approximate weights at different sizes are given for reference.
Excess Fructose in Red Delicious Apples
Red Delicious are what most people envision when they think of apples, due to their dark red color.
Red Delicious apples are sweet, but milder in taste than Gala and Fuji apples. This has contributed to the decline in popularity of Red Delicious, as people say they taste bland. Red Delicious are crisp when first ripe, but turn soft after they’re picked. This variety is often used in making apple juice.6
Glucose, Fructose and Excess Fructose Content in Red Delicious Apples
|1 cup, sliced||N/A||3.0||6.4||3.4|
Excess Fructose in Fuji Apples
Fuji apples are a relatively new variety, developed in the 1930s and first marketed in the 1960s. Originating in Japan, Fujis are now one of the most popular types of apples in the United States.8 Fuji apples look similar to Gala, though they are more clearly red than yellow and tend to be larger than Galas, too.
Glucose, Fructose and Excess Fructose Content in Fuji Apples
|1 cup, sliced||N/A||3.3||7.1||3.8|
The tables above show that Gala, Fuji and the two Delicious varieties of apples have similar amounts of excess fructose. And that these excess fructose values all exceed recommended low FODMAP guidelines.
But all of those are sweet apple varieties. What about tart apples, like Granny Smiths? How does their fructose content stack up?
Excess Fructose in Granny Smith Apples
Granny Smiths are some of the most recognizable apples, due to their bright green peel.
Despite their tart taste, Granny Smiths are often used in cooking and baking, since they remain firm when exposed to heat.10 However, this usually involves adding large amounts of sugar, to balance out the natural acidity of Granny Smiths. Granny Smiths are typically used in apple pies and other apple-based sweets.
Glucose, Fructose and Excess Fructose in Granny Smith Apples
|1 cup, slices||N/A||2.9||5.5||2.6|
Granny Smith apples do have less excess fructose than other popular apple varieties. We’d expect this, given how tart Granny Smiths are in comparison to sweet apples, like Gala and Fuji. Despite this tartness, Granny Smith apples still far exceed guidelines for excess fructose content, so are not a good option for those living low FODMAP.
The take home here is that apples are absolutely not low FODMAP. At normal serving sizes of one small or medium apple (depending on size) all apples exceed low FODMAP guidelines for excess fructose.
A Note on Serving Sizes
I emphasize “normal serving sizes” in this post and on this website because I’ve seen references online and in low FODMAP books to ridiculously small serving sizes. For example, apples being low FODMAP in a two tablespoon portion. The truth is, you can make any food low FODMAP if you make the portion small enough.
But even toddlers eat more than two tablespoons of apple in one sitting. I don’t think generally healthy adults should be encouraged to eat such small portions of food just to adhere to some dietary guideline created by researchers.
My belief about low FODMAPing is that adults should eat adult sized portions of foods they can tolerate. Having a healthy relationship with food is just as important to me as having a healthy body. I refuse to follow any advice that suggests I should eat two tablespoons of this and one-fourth of an ounce of that, just so I can fit certain foods into my diet.
Okay, now that I got that off my chest, let’s look at the sorbitol content of apples. If apples give you tummy troubles, you could be reacting to sorbitol rather than fructose.
Sorbitol Content in Apples
Sorbitol isn’t one of the food components usually tested in food composition studies. As such, it’s much more difficult to find authoritative, published data on sorbitol content. Since this data isn’t available in public databases, I estimated sorbitol content of apples the following way.
Methodology for Estimating the Sorbitol Content in Apples
I actually found a really good, fairly recent study on the sorbitol content of apples.12 This study tested 40 batches of different apples varieties. This included three types mentioned here, Fuji, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. The test also included Braeburn apples, which are another popular apple in the United States.
I took the sorbitol values for those four varieties and averaged them to get an estimate of sorbitol content for popular apples in general. This methodology led to an estimated sorbitol content of .51 grams of sorbitol per 100 grams. That’s the typical quantity used in food science studies and it’s about 3.5 ounces.
Per published low FODMAP research, we want to keep sorbitol to less than .20 grams per serving.1 None of the apples studied here meet this guideline at any normal serving size.
Estimated Sorbitol Content in Apples (in grams)
|Apple Type and Size||Weight|
|Gala, small||5.5 ounces||.79|
|Gala, medium||6.0 ounces||.87|
|Gala, large||7.0 ounces||1.0|
|Golden Delicious, small||4.5 ounces||.65|
|Golden Delicious, medium||6.0 ounces||.85|
|Golden Delicious, large||7.5 ounces||1.1|
|Granny Smith, small||5.1 ounces||.73|
|Granny Smith, medium||6.0 ounces||.84|
|Granny Smith, large||7.3 ounces||1.0|
|Fuji, small||5.5 ounces||.80|
|Fuji, medium||6.8 ounces||.97|
|Fuji, large||8.3 ounces||1.2|
|Red Delicious, small||5.5 ounces||.80|
|Red Delicious, medium||7.5 ounces||1.1|
|Red Delicious, large||9.2 ounces||1.3|
Conclusion: Apples are a High FODMAP Food
I know this has been a data heavy post. If you skipped straight to the conclusion, I don’t blame you.
And that conclusion is: apples are not low FODMAP. Apples contain far too much fructose and far too much sorbitol to fit within low FODMAP guidelines at any reasonable serving size.
If apples give you trouble, it could be that you’re reacting to the high fructose content. But, if you handle some high fructose fruits without issues, then it’s likely sorbitol is the problem.
If apples give you major issues, you’ll need to avoid apple products, like applesauce and apple juice, too. And, like apples, pears are high FODMAP due to their fructose and sorbitol content. So, if you have trouble with apples, look out for pears, too.
But, everyone’s digestive makeup is unique. We each have our own mix of gut bacteria, hormones, dietary and environmental factors that determine how we react to food. So, low FODMAP really isn’t a “one size fits all” approach. You just have to test and find out what works for you.
About the Author
Amanda Coleman, PhD, studies food culture and teaches a popular Food and Society course. Years of digestive problems led her to live low FODMAP. Now she uses her research and analysis skills to help others understand FODMAP essentials, so they can lead better, healthier lives.