I’ve written before about eliminating apples and pears when I went low FODMAP. I didn’t mind, since neither of those were favorite foods. But I do love fresh peaches, fuzzy peel and all. Did going low FODMAP mean I’d have to forgo one of my cherished summertime treats? Perhaps.
Peaches are not low FODMAP. A normal serving of one medium peach contains .21 to .30 grams of sorbitol, which is more than the suggested .20 grams of sorbitol per serving. A cup of fresh, sliced peaches contains .22 to .31 grams of sorbitol, also surpassing the recommended low FODMAP guideline.
In this post, we’ll look at the FODMAP content of peaches. Like all fruits, peaches contain fructose, which is a FODMAP. But that isn’t the real concern here. Instead, it’s the polyols in peaches, particularly sorbitol, that can cause tummy troubles. Here we’ll also learn whether peaches can be a good option for those who need to monitor their overall fructose intake.
FODMAP Content of Fresh Peaches
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Peaches contain two types of FODMAPs, fructose and polyols, which are also known as sugar alcohols. Excess fructose is often the primary worry with fruits on the low FODMAP plan.
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.
Happily, the glucose content of fresh peaches is higher than the fructose content. So, there’s no worry about excess fructose, for a change. The table below shows the glucose and fructose content for fresh peaches at different serving sizes.
Glucose and Fructose Content of Fresh Peaches
|1 cup, slices||3.0||2.4|
If you’re not sensitive to polyols, fresh peaches can be a good low FODMAP fruit choice. They, along with apricots and bananas, are one of the few fruits that don’t have excess fructose. Peaches may also fit nicely in a low fructose diet, too.
Low fructose diet guidelines are different from low FODMAP guidelines. As mentioned, under the low FODMAP system, excess fructose (the ratio of glucose to fructose) is of most concern. On a low fructose diet, the overall amount of fructose is a bigger factor.
Low fructose diet guidelines state that a food should have less than .5 grams of excess fructose and less than 3 grams of total fructose per serving. Foods should also have low amounts of fructans, as well.2
Peaches have no excess fructose and small and medium sized servings have 3 grams of fructose or less. And, studies have found only trace amounts of fructans in fresh peaches.3 So, peaches can be a good option for non-low FODMAPers who must still watch their overall fructose intake.
The real issue with peaches is the polyol content. Polyols are the “P” in FODMAP and are sometimes called sugar alcohols. Peaches contain high amounts of the polyol sorbitol.
Peaches may also contain smaller amounts of another polyol called mannitol. Studies differ here, to be honest. One study I found lists mannitol as a component of peaches4, but several others reported no detectable mannitol in peaches.3,5 In the next section, then, we’ll just focus on the sorbitol content of peaches.
Sorbitol Content of Fresh Peaches
Polyols like mannitol, xylitol and sorbitol occur naturally in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables. They’re also used in processed foods. Chewing gum, jams and jellies and ice cream often have polyols. Since these contain sugar alcohols and not actual sugar, the products are often advertised as “sugar free” or “no sugar added.”6
Polyols are believed to cause gastrointestinal issues in some people, but they often occur in foods with other FODMAPs, so it’s difficult to isolate their effects.4,6 Moreover, polyols aren’t often tested in food composition studies. As such, it’s sometimes hard to get data on the polyol content of foods.
Fortunately, sorbitol is one of the most studied polyols. I was able to find several research studies on the sorbitol content of different fruits, which allowed me to create low and high estimated sorbitol values for fresh peaches.
Methodology for Estimating the Sorbitol Content of Fresh Peaches
First, I looked for scientific reports that specifically discussed sorbitol content in fresh peaches. I found several that reported ranges for sorbitol values.
One report listed fresh peach sorbitol content at .2 and .9 grams per 100 grams of fruit.4 That’s the standard measure in food composition studies and is about 3.5 ounces. The report notes that the .9 figure came from published data, while the .2 figure was supplied by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Another study, produced around the same time, reported fresh peach sorbitol content between .13 and .15 grams per 100 grams of fruit, with an average of .14 grams.3
The .9 grams measurement is really an outlier. Other reliable sources, including the USDA, estimate the sorbitol content of fresh peaches to be much closer to .1 to .2 grams per 100 grams of fruit. I eliminated the .9 measurement and used .14 grams as my low value estimate and .2 grams as my high value estimate.
Second, I used these numbers to calculate low and high sorbitol values for fresh peaches at different serving sizes. I determined the amount of sorbitol per ounce, then multiplied this by typical serving sizes, using data from the US Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central Database.7
Estimated Low and High Sorbitol Values for Fresh Peaches
|Extra Large||7.9 ounces||.32||.45|
|1 cup, slices||5.4 ounces||.22||.31|
Published low FODMAP research recommends keeping sorbitol content to .20 grams or less per serving.8
As shown in the table here, regular sized servings of fresh peaches generally exceed this standard. Only the low sorbitol estimate for small peaches fits within low FODMAP guidelines. So, it’s safe to say that, in general, peaches are not low FODMAP due to high sorbitol content.
This puts peaches in the same category as apples and pears, which fail low FODMAP standards for sorbitol, too. But the total sorbitol content in peaches is much lower than in those fruits. If you’re sorbitol sensitive, you should test your tolerance here. Small amounts of peaches may not disturb your digestive system, even if small amounts of apples and pears do.
Final Thoughts on Peaches and the Low FODMAP System
You may be wondering about peach products, like frozen peach slices or canned peaches. I was unable to find data specifically on these products. But it’s very likely they also contain sorbitol in excess of low FODMAP standards. That’s because there’s no evidence thus far that cooking or processing significantly reduces the FODMAP content in most foods.9
Fortunately, I didn’t have to give up fresh peaches when I started eating low FODMAP. Turns out, I’m not sensitive to polyols. I can’t eat high fructose foods, like apples, but the polyols in fruits like apricots and peaches don’t seem to bother me.
For me, finding low FODMAP fruits means striking a balance, since many fruits have both excess fructose and polyols. For example, watermelon is another high fructose, high polyol food I’ve had to eliminate.
So, the sweet spot for me (pun intended) is fruit with polyols but without excess fructose. That’s obviously narrowed my fruit choices, but luckily, there are still plenty of good options.
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.