15 healthy and delicious low-carb fruits

  • On a low-carb diet, it can be difficult to consume enough fruits due to their high sugar content. 
  • Low-carb fruits include strawberries, avocados, plums, and nectarines. 
  • To help prevent blood sugar spikes, try pairing these fruits with fats and proteins. 

Whether you are on a low-carb diet because of a medical condition, like diabetes, or just trying to lose weight, eating low-carb fruit is good for you. Plus, eating nutrient-rich fruit is essential for consuming enough vitamins and minerals. 

Important: A low-carb diet typically limits carbs to 20 to 57 grams per day

Here are 15 low-carb fruits and why they’re so healthy for you, recommended by Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, RDN, founder of the health and wellness company 360Girls&Women®LLC.

1. Strawberries 

Strawberries make a delicious and juicy snack.
Blaine Harrington III/Getty Images

1/2 cup of whole strawberries contains:

  • 5.6 grams (g) carbohydrates,
  • 1.4 g fiber
  • 23.1 calories

Strawberries contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant that​ reduces the risk of cardiovascular events. Compounds in strawberries have also been found to suppress the progression of tumors. 

Strawberries are also unlikely to spike blood sugar levels because they have a relatively low glycemic index of 41. The glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how quickly a food will cause your blood sugar to spike, and anything with a GI of 55 or less is considered low.

Quick tip: Dip whole strawberries in nut butter for a boost of protein, or enjoy them on their own.

2. Watermelon

Watermelon’s high water content makes it a filling snack.
Kevin Reid/ Getty Images

1/2 cup diced watermelon:

  • 5.75 g carbs
  • 0.3 g fiber
  • 22.8 calories

Watermelon is one of few fruits rich in lycopene, a natural pigment that may be associated with a decreased risk of heart problems and certain types of cancer, though more research in humans is needed to confirm this. 

Due to the lack of fiber, watermelon has a higher GI score of 76. So if you have a medical condition like diabetes, you should pair watermelon with protein or fiber to slow the spike in blood sugar. 

A fruit’s fiber content is important for its glycemic index, because the higher the fiber, the slower your body breaks down carbs from the fruit’s sugars, preventing blood sugar spikes. 

Quick tip: A unique way to enjoy watermelon is by grilling it in thick slices. Or pair it with feta and cucumber for a refreshing summer salad. 

Read more  Low Carb Fruits: 10 Fruits with the Least Amount of Carbs

3. Avocado

Unlike most fruit, avocado is high in heart healthy fats.
Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty Images

1/2 cup sliced avocado:

  • 6.3 g carbs
  • 4.9 g fiber
  • 117 calories

While avocados are high in calories, they’re also high in monounsaturated (aka “healthy”) fat and low in sugar and carbs, giving them a low GI score.

Moreover, avocados are an excellent source of potassium. Half a cup of sliced avocado has about 354 mg, or 7.5% of your daily value. A diet high in potassium has been shown to help lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure and hypertension — typically anything above 120/80. 

Quick tip: The fat in avocados can help you better absorb certain nutrients like beta carotene and fat-soluble vitamins. So it’s a great addition to nutrient-dense meals like salads. Or you can make guacamole to add on top of healthy sides like roasted vegetables.

4. Cantaloupe 

Cantaloupe’s rich orange color is thanks to its high vitamin A content.
Shutterstock

1/2 cup diced cantaloupe:

  • 6.4 g carbs
  • 0.7 g fiber
  • 26.5 calories

Like watermelon, cantaloupe has a high-water, low-fiber content and, consequently, a relatively high GI of about 65

It contains beta​ carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body to help keep the immune system, skin, and hair healthy, Anderson-Haynes says. 

Quick tip: To avoid a spike in blood sugar, pair cantaloupe with fatty foods, like avocado, or a protein-rich source like pecans. You can even mix them all together into a salad with your favorite dressing.  

5. Blackberries 

Blackberries are a great source of antioxidants.
mphillips007/Getty Images

1/2 cup of blackberries:

  • 6.9 g carbs
  • 3.8 g fiber
  • 30.1 calories

Not only do blackberries have a low GI, but they’re also high in manganese. Half a cup of blackberries contains 0.47 mg, or 20% of the daily recommended value (DV). Manganese is a mineral crucial for maintaining bone health. 

Quick tip: Add blackberries to your salad, or make blackberry jam by cooking the berries with chia seeds and water, Anderson-Haynes recommends. 

6. Raspberries 

Raspberries are also high in antioxidants, like most berries.
Katie Haller/Shutterstock

1/2 cup of raspberries:

  • 7.3 g carbs
  • 4 g fiber
  • 32 calories

Raspberries contain anthocyanins, natural pigments with high antioxidant levels that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. They also have a low GI.

Quick tip: Top your favorite whole-grain cereal with raspberries to boost your fiber intake for the day. 

7. Peaches

Try grilling peaches and topping your salads with them.
Shutterstock

1 medium peach:

  • 14.3 g carbs
  • 2.3 g fiber
  • 58.5 calories

One medium peach contains 1.1 mg of vitamin E, or 7.3% DV. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that boosts the body’s immune system to help fight infection. Their GI is 43.

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Quick tip: Try slicing a peach into circles, cooking it in a pan, and adding it to warm oatmeal, which provides additional fiber and protein to keep you feeling fuller, longer. 

8. Nectarines

Nectarines make a great on-the-go snack.
gdmoonkiller / iStock

 1 medium nectarine:

  • 15.1 g carbs
  • 2.4 g fiber
  • 62.5 calories. 

Nectarines are a good source of vitamin E, with one medium fruit containing 1.1 mg (8% DV) as well as 1.6 mg of niacin (10% DV). Niacin helps the nervous system function properly and keeps the liver, skin, hair, and eyes healthy. It also is low on the glycemic index with a score of 35

Quick tip: Make a nectarine smoothie with oat milk or another milk alternative, or dice nectarines finely and combine with salsa as a dip. 

9. Apples

You’ll have to settle for yellow or green apples if you’re eating keto.
Jona Baker/Getty Images

1 medium apple:

  • 25.1 g carbs
  • 4.4 g fiber
  • 94.6 calories

Apples have the most carbs of the fruits listed. However, we’ve included them here not only for their low GI score of 38 but also because they contain prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria in your digestive system. In turn, this can improve your gut health and may help regulate mood and bowel movements

Quick tip: Eat apple slices with peanut butter for a protein boost, or slice them thin and bake them for a crunchy treat.

10. Grapefruit

Grapefruit is low in calories, making it a great fruit if you’re trying to lose weight.
Joey Hadden/Business Insider

½  grapefruit:

  • 9.2 g carbs
  • 1.4 g fiber
  • 36.9 calories

Grapefruit is one of the lowest-calorie foods on our list and also has a very low GI of 25. Moreover, it’s high in vitamin C, with 45.5 mg (50.1% DV) per half of a grapefruit. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that also helps the body’s immune system work properly

Quick tip: Eat half a grapefruit and some almonds for a protein boost.

11. Plums

Plums make a great on-the-go snack.
Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

1 plum:

  • 7.5 g carbs
  • 0.92 g fiber
  • 30.4 calories

Plums are rich in anthocyanins, the same pigment found in raspberries, and also have a low GI. They also contain a compound called resveratrol, which can fight inflammation, thereby possibly lowering the risk of certain diseases including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. 

Quick tip: Make a homemade plum sauce and add it to low-carb, whole-grain crackers, or use it as a marinade for your favorite protein.

12. Oranges

Add oranges to an arugula salad.
Shutterstock

1 orange:

  • 16.2 g carbs
  • 3.4 g fiber
  • 64.9 calories

One orange is high in vitamin C, with 63.4 mg (70% DV), and contains 24 micrograms of folate (6% DV). Folate is a mineral important in red blood cell formation, which is needed for supplying oxygen throughout the body. They also have a low glycemic index at 43

Read more  Keto Egg Fast Diet: Rules, Meal Plan, & Recipes

Quick tip: Cook oranges with your favorite protein dish, such as an orange tofu stir fry, Anderson-Haynes suggests.

13. Blueberries 

Sprinkle blueberries on top of Greek yogurt for a healthy breakfast.
Massimo Rubino / EyeEm/ Getty Images

1/2 cup of blueberries:

  • 10.8 g carbs
  • 1.8 g fiber
  • 42.2 calories

Like other berries, blueberries are rich in antioxidants, including 7.2 mg of vitamin C (8% DV) per ½ cup. The glycemic index is between 40 and 53, depending on the variety and ripeness.

Quick tip: Make overnight oats with chia seeds and blueberries for a breakfast that’s high in fiber and antioxidants.

14. Pineapple

Pineapple is not only a delicious snack, but a healthy one, too.
Huyen Nguyen / EyeEm/Getty Images

1/2 cup pineapple chunks:

  • 10.8 g carbs
  • 1.2 g fiber
  • 41.3 calories

Pineapple contains a digestive enzyme called bromelain that may help treat indigestion and reduce inflammation. However, most of this research was conducted in animals and may not be applicable to humans. 

To prevent blood sugar spikes, it’s important to pair pineapple with either protein or fiber, since this tropical fruit has a relatively high GI score of 59 for our list.

Quick tip: Try grilling pineapple or adding it to a stir fry. It pairs well with chicken and tofu on skewers, Anderson-Haynes says.

15. Mango 

Try freezing mango for a yummy snack.
insjoy/Getty Images

1/2 cup mango pieces:

  • 12.4 g carbs
  • 1.3 g fiber
  • 49.5 calories

Much like cantaloupe, mangoes are rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, with 30.1 mg (33.4% DV) per ½ cup. Plus, they are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes with a glycemic index of 51.

Quick tip: Make a mango and chia seed smoothie, which will help minimize a rise in blood sugar thanks to chia seeds’ high fiber and protein content.

Insider’s takeaway  

Just because you count carbs doesn’t mean you have to cut fruit. You don’t even have to limit yourself to a few fruits — there are plenty of low-carb options in stores.

And that’s important because eating a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures you’re getting all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep you happy and healthy — and maybe make you a little healthier.

“The goal is to balance all your nutrients so that they’re lowering calories, to lose weight and balance blood sugar,” Anderson-Haynes says. 

References

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About the Author: Tung Chi