10 Best Low-Carb Fruits
Apples are both sweet and refreshing, watermelon can make your mouth water, and peaches are, well, downright peachy. If you adore fruit, then you know how tasty it can be. You also surely know that it's good for you. And despite their reputation for being sweet or even starchy, there are plenty of low-carb fruits that can be beneficial to your body.
When looking at fruit as a whole, consider the fact that the findings of a study published in a 2021 issue of the American Heart Association's journal Circulation note that when participants consumed five servings of fruits and vegetables each day as opposed to just two, it lowered the risk of cardiovascular, cancer, and total mortality by 10–13%. Another study in Advances in Nutrition also points out that both fruit and veggies offer your body dietary fiber, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Combine that impressive and promising info with the fact that many low-carb fruits have added health benefits, such as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease while also helping with cholesterol levels and weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, if you're the key to making this work to your advantage is by choosing healthy ways to get the number of carbs that you need without consuming too many. That's why fruit is such a great low-carb option.
What is considered a low-carb fruit?
"According to the American Diabetes Association, one serving of fruit is 15 grams of carbohydrates," Amy S. Margulies, RD, CDCES, LDN, NBC-HWC, tells Eat This, Not That! "Most fruits provide about 15 grams of carbohydrates per 1/2-cup serving, or about the size of a tennis ball."
At the same time, "the maximum threshold of grams of carbs allowed in fruit for it to still be considered low-carb can vary depending on different sources and interpretations," says Mary Sabat, MS, RDN, LD. "Generally, fruits that contain approximately 5 grams or fewer of net carbs per serving are considered low-carb. Net carbs refer to the total carbohydrate content minus the fiber content."
Sabat explains that "there is a positive correlation between a fruit being low-carb and its fiber content." She notes that "fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not fully digested by the body." When consumed, "it can help slow down the absorption of sugars and promote a feeling of fullness, making it beneficial for maintaining stable blood sugar levels and supporting weight management." She also points out that "many low-carb fruits tend to be high in fiber, which further contributes to their health benefits."
This is why, as mentioned, you can take the number of total carbs in each serving of fruit and subtract the amount of fiber. This will give you the amount of net carbs, which is what you should put toward your daily intake. With that in mind, here are 10 of the best low-carb fruits you could eat, according to scientific research and expert insight from dietitians. Also, for more healthy eating advice to help you sift through the many nutritious fruit choices at the market, be sure to check out 11 Best Fruits to Eat For Weight Loss.
If coconuts are a fruit, then have you ever wondered why are they called coconuts? Are they actually nuts?! Although you can certainly consider them nuts or even seeds, they're actually drupes, according to the Library of Congress. Drupes have a hard outer layer as well as a seed inside. They're also a kind of fruit. So, yes, coconuts are fruit despite having the word "nut" in their name. Of course, however, you choose to define a coconut, it doesn't change the fact that it's delicious and a great low-carb option.
Sabat explains that "coconuts offer a good source of healthy fats and fiber while being relatively low in carbs." Beyond that, "they also provide electrolytes and minerals, making them a great choice for a low-carb diet."
While Margulies says that coconuts are "an excellent source of fiber," she also is sure to note that "with its high-fat content (about 17 grams per half cup) and calorie content (177 calories per half cup), be sure to monitor your portion size."
Berries (Raspberries, Strawberries, & Blackberries)
Berries may be small, but they can pack a powerful punch when it comes to keeping you healthy. A study published in the Molecules journal in 2021 found that berries can provide your body with antioxidants that can benefit both your gut and brain while protecting you from inflammatory disorders, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers.
Sabat adds that berries "are also rich in fiber, providing additional health benefits while keeping the net carb count low."She also specifically recommends strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Meanwhile, Margulies explains that blackberries are "an awesome source of fiber and low in calories (62 calories per cup)."
"They are also an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants, so a winning ingredient for your yogurt parfait, salads, or snack time," Margulies adds.
As for raspberries, Margulies explains that "at 64 calories per cup, another excellent source of fiber." They are also "high in vitamin C, potassium, and folate, and they have no fat, cholesterol, or sodium."
Regarding strawberries, Margulies says that "these tasty beauties naturally deliver vitamins, fiber, and particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols."
"Recent studies on strawberries suggest they may be associated with slowing down the aging of the brain, cardiovascular system, and gut microbiome," says Margulies.
Apricots have been grown and enjoyed by humans for more than 4,000 years, and while they originated in China, Utah State University notes that almost 90% of apricots now come from the United States. Clearly a popular fruit, they also have various health-related benefits.
"Apricots have analgesic, anthelmintic, anti-asthmatic, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, demulcent, emetic, emollient, expectorant, laxative, ophthalmic, pectoral, sedative, tonic, and vulnerary effects," according to Fruits Grown in Highland Regions of the Himalayas.
Although some of those may sound familiar and others may seem a little mysterious, the fact is that this tiny fruit can offer you plenty of benefits while also being "relatively low in carbs," Sabat says. Apricots also "provide a good amount of fiber and are a source of vitamins A and C," adds Sabat.
A tropical citrus delight that can be a little bit sweet and quite a bit sour, grapefruit can do everything from improving your immune system to supporting healthy cardiovascular function. They can also help you manage your weight.
"Grapefruits are known for their low-calorie and low-carb properties," says Sabat. "[Also, they are] high in fiber and vitamin C, making them a healthy choice for a low-carb diet."
Eastern medicine has made good use of pears for ages, and that's understandable when you find out that they can help with inflammation and reduce your risk of stroke.
"They are linked to decreasing your risk of diabetes, along with improving gut health and constipation," says Margulies. Western medicine has also been aware of the benefits of pears for quite some time, which is why a study done back in 2003 and published in Nutrition found that fruit such as pears can lead to weight loss.
As for why pears are so beneficial, they "are a rich source of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients," Margulies says. When it comes to how to enjoy them, she adds that "they pair well with almond butter or peanut butter for a healthy protein [plus] produce snack."
An apple a day will keep the doctor away, as they say. That might also be one of the reasons why, coming in behind bananas, apples were the second most popular fruit in the U.S. in 2022, according to the International Fresh Produce Association. When it comes to being a healthy option, apples are "rich in fiber and antioxidants, linking them to a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer," Margulies says, while also pointing out that they may "promote weight loss and improve gut and brain health."
Although they're definitely something that you can eat as-is for a quick and convenient nibble, Margulies offers another suggestion, saying they "pair well with peanut butter for a satisfying, delicious snack, with a flair of caramel apple sensation!"
Whether you're planning a backyard barbecue or are heading out on a picnic, you might want to bring some watermelon along as a healthy, tasty addition. Research published by the International Journal of Food Properties found that the juicy fruit can lower the risk of skin issues, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Those behind the study also recommended watermelon for women who are obese, pregnant, smokers, alcohol drinkers, or athletes.
Despite that, "watermelon has an undeserved reputation for being high in sugar," Margulies says. She clarifies that "it is not high in sugar, but it is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, nutrients, and electrolytes, including vitamin C, lycopene, choline, potassium, magnesium, fiber, iron, and even some calcium." She explains that "these large fruits are quite nutrient-dense, along with their hydrating capacity."
When it comes to the sugar content, Sabat says, "Although watermelon is relatively high in sugar compared to other fruits, it is still a viable low-carb option due to its high water content, which dilutes the overall sugar concentration."
"Cantaloupe is a refreshing fruit that is relatively low in carbs compared to many others," Sabat says. That's not to mention the fact that "it is also a good source of vitamins A and C."
The former is great for your immune system and vision, as well as your heart, lungs, and other organs, according to the National Institutes of Health. The latter, vitamin C, can help with everything from having a cold to preventing a range of serious diseases like cancer.
Cantaloupe is also another melon that can provide your body with minerals, antioxidants, and plenty of water. So as you're enjoying a low-carb treat, you'll also be giving your hydration, digestion, skin, and hair a boost while potentially reducing the risk of asthma, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Although some people are able to simply cut up a lemon and snack on the sun-colored fruit without having to severely pucker their face, not everyone can handle their intense taste. However, that doesn't mean that you can't find ways to enjoy them, which you may want to do since they're such an ideal and versatile low-carb fruit.
"Although lemons are sour and not typically consumed on their own, they are very low in carbs and can be used to enhance the flavor of foods and drinks without significantly impacting carb intake," Sabat says.
Just check out our recipes for garlic-lemon spinach and instant pot lemon chicken if you want something savory, as well as no-bake lemon cake pops and easy four-ingredient chocolate and lemon cake cookies if you're in the mood for something sweet.
Peaches are another fruit that some experts consider to be medicinal because they're so effective when it comes to reducing the risk of both chronic diseases and ones connected to aging, according to data published in Food Reviews International. That includes obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and inflammation, as well as cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and oncologic diseases.
"Peaches are moderately low in carbs and contain vitamins A and C," Sabat says. In turn, she tells us that "they can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a low-carb diet." Indeed, when it comes to the health benefits of this fruit, everything's peachy keen!
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