Orange juice has been considered part of a balanced breakfast in the US for decades. All kinds of claims have been made about this “health” drink, most of which are turning out to be untrue or at least not entirely accurate.
Juice might not be the healthiest part of a good diet but what about whole fruit?
As people become more conscious of what they eat, low-carb diets have been getting more and more popular. Fruit is one of the USDA’s food groups but what if you want to eat low-carb?
Does fruit have carbs? Let’s find out.
Why is Fruit One of the Food Groups?
Whole fruit offers many health benefits, including:
- Source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- Can be low in calories
- Low fat or fat-free
It contains fiber and provides you with energy from natural sources instead of the highly-processed options in many modern foods.
All those things are true but that doesn’t mean fruit is always a healthy choice.
Fruit Contains Sugar
Fruit is a natural food but even natural foods can contain sugar. It’s not the highly-processed sugar you put in your coffee or use when baking but it’s still sugar.
Fruit contains fructose and glucose. These natural sugars are what makes fruit taste sweet. If you’ve spent any time reading about a healthy diet, you’ve probably read about the dangers of fructose. Does that mean fruit is bad for you?
Not exactly. The fructose believed to lead to so many health problems is specifically high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the sweetener used in many types of junk food. This is what’s in a can of soda, candy, and all kinds of other sweet treats.
HFCS is far more concentrated than the fructose you get in whole fruit so it’s not so much of a concern. You probably couldn’t eat enough fruit to get too much fructose that way.
This is why fruit juice is not a healthy option though. The fructose in juice is more concentrated so you’ll be drinking much more of it that way. In fact, a glass of juice can contain as much, or even more, sugar than a soft drink.
So… Does Fruit Have Carbs?
As you can probably guess from the last section, yes, fruit does have carbs.
Carbohydrates come from sugars, starches, and fiber so anything that contains sugar also has carbs. They might be listed separately on food labels, but the total carbs include the sugar amount.
That doesn’t mean you can’t eat fruit at all if you’re on a low-carb diet, but you will have to be smart about what kind of fruit you select and how much you eat. Fruit still offers a lot of benefits, such as helping to create happiness hormones in your body and providing your body with the nutrients it needs to create glycogen.
Some Fruits are Better than Others
Like most things in life, some options are better for you than others. Different types of fruit have different amounts of sugar. If you choose wisely, you can still enjoy them without taking in too many carbs.
The following are some common fruits and the carb count you’ll be getting.
- Grapes – 26g per cup
- Banana – 24g per 1 medium
- Apple – 21g per 1 medium apple
- Blueberries – 17g per cup
- Orange – 12g per 1 medium orange
- Strawberries – 8g per cup
The ketogenic diet is a popular low-carb option that recommends less than 50g of carbs per day. You can see how you can more easily budget your carbs if you eat some strawberries than if you eat some grapes.
Fruits You Should Avoid
As we’ve already covered, you should avoid fruit juice. This is true even if you’re not following a low-carb diet but it’s particularly important if you are. Not only do you get a much higher concentration of carbs, but you also lose most of the benefits of whole fruit like the fiber and the vitamins and minerals in the skin.
Try to stay away from dried fruit as well, for the same reason. Dried fruit has a higher concentration of sugar (therefore carbs) per serving so it’s easy to overeat. You won’t lose some of the other benefits like fiber, but you’re still better off eating fresh fruit whenever possible.
Why Did Our Ancestors Stay So Healthy When Eating Fruit?
Fruit has been marketed as a healthy part of our day-to-day diet for decades but it was popular long before that. How did our ancestors stay so healthy if they were eating a lot of fruit?
There are a few reasons we can’t compare our diets to theirs. Modern fruit is bred to get the maximum yield, to look colorful and attractive, and to maximize the sweetness. This is true for almost any modern fruit, even if it’s grown organically.
This “engineering” of how fruit is grown has led to higher levels of sugar than what our ancestors had. Fruit is also available year-round in today’s world where it was only available in-season in the past.
Even if our ancestors ate as much of it as possible when they could get it, they would have had a limited window of opportunity.
More important is that our ancestors spent an estimated 3-6 hours per day on food acquisition. Furthermore, physical activity was required for them to secure water, shelter, clothing, and nearly other essential for life in that time period.
Today, we are largely sendentary culture, working in offices, ordering our essentials online, and indulging in Netflix binges of our favorite series. According to a recent Nielsen report, Americans are now consuming an appalling 5 hours and four minutes of TV per day on average. That equates to 35.5 hours per week or 77 days per year.
How to Enjoy Fruit on a Low-Carb Diet
If you’re following a low-carb diet, you need to be mindful of the fruit you eat. Whenever possible, eat vegetables instead of fruit. You can get the same vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from veggies with much lower carb counts.
Yes, fruit will be sweeter and better-tasting. That’s because of the higher carb levels.
Replacing some of your fruit with vegetables frees up some carbs so you can make the most of the fruit you do eat. Limit it to small amounts of your absolute favorite fruit and you can still enjoy them while sticking to your diet.
Are you curious about what other knowledge you were taught in school that isn’t what it seems? I share what I’ve learned through experience, so you can save yourself the trial and error. Things like does fruit have carbs and how to start investing in real estate. Check out the blog for insights that will transform your life.
Do you have questions about eating carbs while losing weight or trying to achieve your physique goals? Ask them in the comments below.