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

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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. I’m just starting a diet so this was very helpful to me.

    Diablo III Cheats wrote on May 26th, 2012
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. So what melons are better to eat? Is honeydew better than watermelon and cantaloupe?

    Molly wrote on July 16th, 2012
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. In general, being wary is fruits is a folly.

    Jay M wrote on May 29th, 2013
  11. As a diabetic this is very interesting to read as i am on a low carb diet and interestingly as i love nectarines i now know to stay away form them, Thanks

    Carole T wrote on September 11th, 2013
  12. I am THOROUGHLY confused. It seems everyone claiming to be an expert contradicts not only each other, but themselves. One page I looked at warned against eating tomatoes if Diabetic, and then the page it linked to, to continue the article said to eat lots of tomatoes. One page says eat pineapple, now you say ease off on it. Fresh pineapple and melon are the few fruits I have been able to eat. I get apples when I can afford them. I also buy dried cantaloupe when I can afford it. But when I went looking for some real low carb direction, it all seems to be more about subjective PC egoism than any actual truths (like those oh, so PC bakers and their agave, honey, demerara, etc. – – I grew up cooking and baking and I always use cane sugar, but and sugar is sugar is sugar- – it’s ALL sweet. I learned at a very early age to always use Cane sugar and it is fine and reliable.). How do any of us know who to trust or is it all just guesswork, semantics and cutting-edge PC? I am Diabetic with food allergies and I am fast becoming sorry I went to the web for help. I just do not have a clue how to make sense of all these contradictions. Why can’t you all just have one big meeting and decide on your criteria for the health of all of us without all the PC and personally subjective nonsense? When I was growing up, pineapple juice or pineapple orange was the rage. We are all fine. Yes, many of us have predictable health issues, but some from the crap chosen to eat and some from age and our individual metabolism. We were too poor to eat fast food or restaurant food, so we learned to cook our own. I remember the finger-shaking warnings about “sugar diabetes,” but white sugar DOES NOT cause Diabetes. That much has been proven. I know what I trust, but lately I do not know who or what to trust, save what I learned in the home kitchens of the 40’s and 50’s.

    All these recommendations are great for fun if one is rich, but many of us are not. Also many people on meds cannot have grapefruit. How about some BASIC, inexpensive, everyday, Non-PC truths and guidance?

    I am not angry, just VERY CONFUSED.

    J'Marinde Shephard wrote on October 14th, 2013
    • Actually there already is broad agreement in the paleosphere. Eat good quality meats and fats, plenty of vegetables and especially greens, and small to moderate amounts of fruits, nuts and starchy vegetables. How simple is that ? And surprisingly affordable because you are not filling your trolley with tins, bottles, and packets. Low Carb sites have different criteria and often include food additives such as sweeteners, added fibre and bars etc which would be a no-go on a paleo diet.

      There is a lot of contradictory advice on the interweb and I find it is best to limit yourself to a couple of sites that you feel fit your philosophy and health needs. I follow Marks Daily Apple because I believe he backs up his articles with good research and references and doesn’t just hop on the latest fashion bandwagon. I like Nom Nom Paleo for the recipes and I would recommend the Whole30 as a great introduction to paleo eating.
      Good luck!

      Anakei wrote on November 6th, 2013
  13. I’m a recent newcomer to the Primal way of life and have discovered a new “favorite” breakfast: Primal Fuel (chocolate/coconut), coconut milk (chocolate), blended with either a banana, blackberries, or strawberries. Perfect and keeps me satisfied until lunch.

    I love pineapple also but sometimes had that burning sensation on my lips and tongue – now I know why.

    Thanks for the article, Mark. Grok on!

    Darlene wrote on November 6th, 2013
  14. This is a classic example of why people like Mark should be viewed with grate suspicion and in some cases laughed at.
    Mark is on a crusade against Lectins and Gluten etc. He is a proponent of the Paleo (primal) diet.
    On his blog concerning Lectins, he states that we should avoid grains etc. Telling us that seeds are not good for consumption because they are part of natures defence. They are indigestible (goes on to moan about them bumping and tearing his intestine a colon etc) and that the toxins with them (grains/beans etc) are poisoning our gut, depleting us of nutrients and causing things like leaky gut, malfunctioning of internal organs and bouts of scinece-less blogging (lol)

    However he has failed to notice that his recommendation to us and obviously a course of action he undergoes himself, is to eat the most seed ridden fruits of all.

    So either Mark thinks some seeds are bad and some aren’t, which I doubt is the case. Or he’s completely overlooked the fact that he is essentially eating a colon load of poisonous seeds/grains etc.


    People stay away from these bloggers. Especially Wellness mumma.

    Carl wrote on January 21st, 2014
    • Please share more. I am sponging this info up. What are you saying about seeds? I have listened to plenty on grains (especially Dr. Thomas O’Bryan) and his super simple advice to heal a gut (cut out wheat barley and rye. Period. Not a hundred other crazy suggestions), and it has helped me fast to feel tons better. I also stopped snacking so much and just eat gpod ol square meals now and feel remarkably better. BUT, I am sooo confused about fruit. Please endulge me.

      Annie wrote on May 9th, 2014
  15. What about Grapes?

    Sheri wrote on February 19th, 2014
  16. As usual, there is conflicting information between sources… In this case, one of the very sources you cite.

    The “About: Low-Sugar Fruits” website mentions a handful of the fruits that you’ve stated were relatively low in sugar as being “High” and even “Very High” in sugar content.

    Ugh… Can never find straight answers when it comes to eating healthier.

    JD wrote on February 22nd, 2014
  17. This article is kind of misleading. For example, watermelon although it’s GI is very high, the Glycemic load on the body is very low because of all the water it contains..

    Mike wrote on July 19th, 2014
  18. Strawberries aren’t actually berries, I’ve read. I was interested whether that means they don’t have the same antioxidant properties as other berries…
    For example, the banana is actually a berry 😉

    Adi wrote on August 10th, 2014
  19. Interesting….

    ‘Avoid nectarines, which are much higher in sugar and are more akin to mangoes and papayas’.

    Interesting…Nectarines, papayas and mangoes are listed in the ‘other fruits’ on the Shopping list.

    Bryan wrote on September 1st, 2014
  20. How about guavas? Are they paleo/primal?

    Rajat wrote on August 30th, 2015
  21. We consider the glycemic index to be more important than the glycemic load. Of course, the title is a bit misleading. These fruits aren’t bad for low-carb diets (technically all fruits are bad for low-carb diets), they are bad for people with insulin problems (e.g. diabetes).

    Bruno wrote on June 18th, 2011

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