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This one’s not just for all you low-carbers! Here’s a quick guide to the best and worst fruits according to their sugar content and nutritional value. If you enjoy sweets and find yourself relying (or perhaps suffering) on Splenda and mockalate far too often, enjoy a sensible selection of fruit instead.
These are our favorite fruits:
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries, salmon berries, gooseberries – they’re all packed with antioxidants and vitamins. These little fiber bombs are the smartest, most nutritionally-dense fruit you can eat. Aim for a half-cup to one cup daily. Keep in mind that these fruits, especially strawberries and raspberries, are excellent on grilled meats and in salads, so go ahead and experiment! (Glycemic Index: generally low to mid-20’s)
Cherries are similar to berries in terms of their antioxidant value. They have a bit higher natural sugar content, but they’re still very low-carb and are an excellent source of important fiber. Cherries are amazing with bacon, feta and greens; or try them smothered atop pork chops. Hungry yet? (GI: 22)
These northern fruits are related to the rose. They’re low in sugar and contain a respectable amount of fiber. While antioxidants aren’t exactly overflowing from your average Granny Smith, apples (and pears) are still a great way to satisfy a craving for sweetness without terrorizing your pancreas. (GI: 38
Most citrus fruits are quite high in sugar, but grapefruits are not. In fact, their effect on blood sugar is less than apples and pears at only 25. Just don’t ruin a smart thing with a sprinkling of sugar on top! Grapefruit is excellent in salads, especially when paired with avocado slices.
Bonus: biggest grapefruit ever
With similar nutritional value as apples and pears, these stone fruits are a smart way to get a good dose of vitamin C and fiber. Avoid nectarines, which are much higher in sugar and are more akin to mangoes and papayas. (GI: 30s)
Oh, the forgotten fig. It seems to get lumped into the dates ‘n raisins category, but figs are just as low in sugar as strawberries, and are packed with fiber (all those tender, tiny seeds). Enjoy these fresh whenever they’re in season.
Some low-carb guides will recommend melons, but you do have to be mindful of which ones you’re going for. Both cantaloupes and watermelons are very high in sugar (GI: 65, 100 respectively). We recommend making melons a rare treat.
– Mangoes and Papayas
Though not as sugary as pineapples, these fruits are best enjoyed infrequently. A better choice is the banana, which – although starchy and a 55 on the glycemic index – is a smarter energy source.
Pineapple is the best source of bromelain, an enzyme that can help with joint health and inflammation. Some folks are intolerant or allergic (if you get irritated lip or mouth tissues after eating pineapple, this is why). Pineapple is very high in sugar, but it’s full of valuable nutrients in addition to bromelain, so enjoy it guilt-free from time to time.
Flickr Photos: Skillet Lickers‘, avlxyz, London Permaculture, Polifemus, Abbydonkraft, avlxyz
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