by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.
Day in and day out, your horse eats the same thing. Boring ... yes. Unbalanced ... definitely. You’d like to add some fresh fruits to his diet, especially this time of year with all the summer variety available, but he’s already on the chubby side and you’re afraid of giving him too much sugar.
Many, if not most, overweight horses are insulin resistant and it’s true, you do need to limit the sugar (and starch) content of the diet. But there still can be room for some tasty fresh fruit. The key is to evaluate how much sugar your horse is getting in his entire diet.
Sugar Content of Common Fruits
Horses love bananas (one of their favorite flavors). They also like watermelon, berries, grapes, and of course, apples. Carrots, though not a fruit, also contain sugar. The chart below gives you an idea of how much sugar is in each of these foods:
|Fruit or Vegetable||Grams of Sugar|
|Apple, one medium||13|
|Apricot, one (no pit!)||3|
|Banana, one 7 inch||14|
|Blueberries (one cup)||15|
|Cantaloupe, 1/8 small melon||4|
|Carrot, one 8 inch||3|
|Dates, three (no pits!)||12|
|Orange, one medium||15|
|Grapes (red, green), 10 grapes||8|
|Honeydew melon, 1/8 7” melon||13|
|Peach, one 2 3/4 inches (no pit!)||15|
|Pear, one medium||17|
|Raspberries (1 cup)||5|
|Tangerine, one 2 1/2 inch||9|
|Strawberries, 3 medium||3|
|Watermelon, one wedge||28|
Don't forget the peel!
One really great way to offer your horse something tasty and nutritious is to feed the peel instead of the whole fruit. Apple peels, banana peels, orange peels, watermelon (and other melon) rinds – all of these have less than 1 gram of sugar per cup.
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