Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 Aug

The Best Low-Carb Fruits (and the Worst)

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)

Apples and Pears

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

Apricots and Peaches

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.

These fruits are high in sugar, so don’t make them a daily habit:


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.


World’s Healthiest Foods

About: low-sugar fruits

Flickr Photos: Skillet Lickers‘, avlxyz, London Permaculture, Polifemus, Abbydonkraft, avlxyz

Sponsor note:

This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Great article Mark!

    I must say that I am glad to see the Mango on the bad list. When I was in the Marine Corps we were in Kenya for a time and the locals would bring by baskets of Mangos every day. Although, I appreciated the gesture, I am ruined for Mangos to this day. Just looking at them makes me feel sick.

    Keep up the good work brother!!

    Rick wrote on June 7th, 2011
  2. First time viewer…like the site..but how does a woman over 60yr. loose weight when exercise is somewhat out of the Question due to medical reasons…what is the time limit for eating fruit during the day.

    Janet wrote on October 1st, 2011
  3. Hey Janet!
    I am 53 and over the last year just following the diet I have lost 40 lbs. I am now however walking an hour 5x a week which is amazing for me.
    As Mark says we are 80% of what we eat. I am not an expert but have found eating fruit in the mornings for the best results.
    Good Luck and enjoy!

    ShelleyJ wrote on October 1st, 2011
  4. Figs are low in sugar?? Wow, I’d have never thought that, as they taste very sweet, even too sweet for me.

    What about grapes and kiwi?

    Jessy (squeezetheday) wrote on October 7th, 2011
  5. Oh, and bananas?

    Jessy (squeezetheday) wrote on October 7th, 2011
  6. Good to see figs get some respect! Figs are great!

    Steve wrote on January 7th, 2012
  7. In this article you wrote that fresh figs are a good choice because they have just as low a sugar content as strawberries, but in another, you wrote that figs maybe ought to be put in the occasional category ( Is there any explanation for this? Thanks.

    Brian Kozmo wrote on March 5th, 2012
  8. Blueberries are my favorite! They’re very rich in antioxidants and they’re extremely healthy. I don’t like frozen blueberries though, so I can’t eat blueberries all year round. By the way, I’ve also read somewhere that blueberries are great for bodybuilders (for building muscle mass maybe?), but I can’t remember why.

    Natalie wrote on April 3rd, 2012
  9. People need to understand the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load….

    Brian wrote on April 26th, 2012
  10. I’m just starting a diet so this was very helpful to me.

    Diablo III Cheats wrote on May 26th, 2012
  11. Bit surprised about the apples, they’re quite high in sugar as far as fruits go? I guess that’s only in comparison to other fruits though… They’re still full of good fruity nutrients & fiber.

    There’s a list of fruits with sugar content here which I found really interesting:

    Angela wrote on June 2nd, 2012
  12. I’m a little surprised to not see oranges on here. Though they are high in sugar, the navel oranges I get are listed at 7g of fiber.

    Ben wrote on June 11th, 2012
  13. How about anti-fungus diets, I on it and would like some good tips on staying on it even when eating out

    Bonnie wrote on July 7th, 2012
  14. So what melons are better to eat? Is honeydew better than watermelon and cantaloupe?

    Molly wrote on July 16th, 2012
  15. You forgot to mention a few facts about bananas! They may SEEM healthy, but they are really bad for you if your trying to lose belly fat. 😛

    Sunshine wrote on August 5th, 2012
  16. I have been a huge pineapple fan for years (and counting). I recently consumed some pineapple cut into chunks. While eating, I eventually look down to see how much of my sweet treat I have left, only to see red stuff on my piece of fruit. I pick down with my fingers into the fruit to see if there was anything leaking, I found nothing. I did feel a burning sensation on my lip, only to find out that the extreme acidic juices on the fruit made my whole upper lip bleed. Although my lip reacted to the juice, everything else about me remained just fine! So, be careful when consuming thick pieces of this heavenly fruit! :)

    Carrie wrote on September 9th, 2012
  17. This is a load of bullshit. You are extrapolating sugar content from GI, which is simply misguided. Apples arent’t low in sugar, they are just high in fructose thus low GI. Eat your fruit!

    gash wrote on October 24th, 2012
  18. Um, if your figs are low in sugar you must be getting those awful ones from the grocery store. Fully ripe figs (whic h stores don’t sell because they are soft and won’t survive transport) are VERY sweet and taste almost like straight honey.

    AN wrote on January 12th, 2013
  19. In general, being wary is fruits is a folly.

    Jay M wrote on May 29th, 2013

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!