Written by Holly Brown, Health Educator
I was walking through my local Farmer’s Market last weekend and couldn’t help but notice all the delicious summer fruits. The scent of fresh peaches and nectarines was intoxicating! I was tempted to buy several pieces but I had to remind myself that, even though they are a healthy option to cupcakes, it’s a good idea to stick to small portions and choose low sugar, high fiber options whenever possible. Why should you care, it’s just fruit, right? Well, if you are following a low carbohydrate plan, whether it’s pasta or peaches, all carbs count.
We encourage our clients to enjoy fruits as part of a healthy diet but advise that they be eaten in moderation, no more than 1/2 cup at a time and no more than twice a day. Think of fruit as an ingredient and not a standalone snack. Add it to some Greek yogurt or salad. Eating fruit with a little bit of protein will prevent a spike in your blood sugar levels and allow you to feel full for a longer period of time.
Increased amounts of any sugar, even if it’s natural, can cause increased hunger and fat storage. Because fruits vary widely in the amount of sugar they contain, it’s a good idea to know the right serving size for each of the fruits you consume the most often.
For example, let’s take a look at peaches. One medium peach (2 to 3 inches in diameter or about 5 ounces) has 12 net grams of carbohydrates or 1.5 carbohydrate units on the GreenLite plan. The same amount of watermelon (1/16 wedge of a whole melon or about 4-5 ounces) has 5.5 net grams of carbohydrates or a little less than 1 unit of carbohydrates on the GreenLite plan. Lastly, one medium banana (7 inches long) has 24 net grams of carbohydrates or 3.5 units of carbohydrates!
Why should you choose fruits that are high in fiber? Fiber is what makes us feel full. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a University of California, San Francisco obesity expert, “eating fiber also results in less carbohydrate being absorbed in the gut…fiber consumption allows the brain to receive a satiety signal sooner than it would otherwise, so we stop eating sooner.” So, it’s better to eat fresh whole fruit, including the skin, whenever you can.
What fruits are the best for someone on a low carb diet? Berries and melons tend to be the lowest in sugar, with berries also being high in dietary fiber. According to Laura Dolson, a health and food writer for About.com, fruits that are the lowest in sugar also have the highest nutritional value, including antioxidants and other phytonutrients.
Here is a list of safe fruits to enjoy during the summer with their suggested serving sizes:
- Raspberries (1/2 cup)
- Blackberries (1/3 cup)
- Strawberries (1/2 cup)
- Papaya (1/4 medium or 1/2 cup)
- Watermelon (1/2 cup cubed)
- Peaches (1/2 medium)
- Nectarines (1/2 small)
- Blueberries (1/3 cup)
- Cantaloupe (1/2 cup cubed)
- Honeydew Melon (1/2 cup cubed)
- Apples (2 oz or 1/2 small)
- Guavas (1/2 medium)
- Apricots (2 medium)
- Grapefruit (1/4 large)
We all know that fruits are delicious and nutritious. They are great for a quick pick-me-up before a workout and healthy dessert option. However, too much of a good thing can make losing weight harder than it has to be. Remember, fruit is natures dessert but like all things in life, moderation is what defines a “treat” from a “cheat” and too much of a good thing can spoil the goodness.