Fruit is recommended as a healthy food choice and with good reason. They are a great source of beneficial nutrients like antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals.
Yet, some dieters may be concerned about the sugar and carb content of fruit. Is fruit really “nature’s candy”?
Far from being candy, the calories in fruit do mainly come from carbohydrates. However, the 2 carbohydrates occur in them naturally (fructose and glucose). There is no added sugar in whole fruits.
Fruit also contains fiber and “net carbs” can be counted. Fiber is not absorbed and digested. It passes through the GI system. Therefore, in theory, grams of fiber should not be counted towards your carbs per day.
In the case of whole foods, like fruit, “net carbs” is simply subtracting the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbohydrate. The more fiber in a fruit, the fewer net carbs.
Included in this article are 26 low-carb fruits that can be included in a low-carb diet.
What fruits can you eat on a low carb diet?
This really depends on the type of low-carb diet. Some moderate carb-restricted diets of 100-150 grams carbs per day will have more room to allow fruits and any of the below options would fit.
More restricted diets, like the ketogenic diet (50 grams of carbs or less daily), have less room to fit in fruits but it can be done. In this case, berries can fit with raspberries and blackberries providing the least carbohydrate of all the berries.
Avocado is always a good option because it has more fat than carbs and most of the carbs come from fiber. Olives are another fruit that provide more fat than carbohydrate. Tomatoes also have a lower amount of carbohydrate and calories.
Raspberries and blackberries are a popular option as they provide more fiber than fructose.
Additional options that could fit include plums, apricot, kiwi, carambola, peaches, clementines, cantaloupe, and cherries.
Why Does Calories in Fruits Matter?
Calories in fruit matter just as calories in any food matter.
Fruits are a healthier and lower-calorie option compared to other source of carbohydrates, especially products with added sugar (sweets and sodas). Fruits also provide the benefit of important micronutrients.
However, it is always possible to eat too much or exceed the recommended portions. This is especially of concern for those who are following a diet for weight loss or a strict eating pattern for type 2 diabetes.
If you are following a low carb diet, it is wise to closely monitor your fruit intake and portions.
26 Low-Carb Fruits with Almost Zero Calories
Although they are mostly made of carbohydrates, some may be considered low-carb fruits over others. This is related to their size or portions and their fiber (F)content. As much as possible, nutrition content was compared using a 1 cup portion.
One medium apple provides 94.6 calories, 25 g carb, 4.4 g F, and 18.9 g sugars (S) (1). They are at the higher end of the carb range of lower-carb fruit choices. Some will use half an apple at a time.
A full cup of apricot halves provides 74.4 calories, 2 grams (g) protein, 17.2 g carbohydrate (3.1 g F and 14.3 g S). Since apricots are quite small, one fresh apricot contains only 17 calories and under 4 grams of carbohydrate. It is also a good source of vitamin A, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin (1). Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants important for eye health.
One cup of blackberries provides 62 calories. They provide just under 14 grams of carbohydrate but 7.63 grams of F so the net carbs may be more like 6-7 g carbs. Blackberries are also a source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C (1).
One cup of blueberries is about 84 calories. They provide 21.4 g carbohydrates, 14.7 g S, and 3.6 g F. They also offer vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese (1).
One cup of this variety of melon provides 53 calories and almost 13 grams of carbohydrate (1.4 grams F and 12 g S). Cantaloupe is a high vitamin C food choice. It is also a good source of potassium, folate, and beta-carotene (1).
6. Carambola (starfruit)
One cup of sliced carambola provides 33.5 calories, 7.3 g carbohydrate (3 g F, and just 4.3 g S). One medium-sized carambola provides a smaller portion and therefore, fewer carbs (1). This makes starfruit a great option for even the most restrictive diets.
One cup of cherries provides 86 calories. The calories come mostly from carbohydrate (22 grams, 3 g F, and 18 g S). They also provide potassium and vitamin C (1).
One small clementine provides just 35 calories. Due to their small size and low-calorie amount, they are also low in carbs. They provide 9 grams total carbohydrate with 1 gram F. Similar to other citrus fruits, they offer vitamin C and potassium (1).
9. Grapefruit pink/white
One cup of grapefruit segments provides 74 calories. The calories come from 18.6 g carbohydrate (2.5 g F and 16 g S). They are a source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate (1).
A cup of cubed honeydew melon is just over 60 calories coming from 15.5 grams of carbohydrate (1.4 g F and 14 g S). Honeydew is a source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate (1).
One cup of kiwi provides 108 calories but one cup is possibly greater than what a normal serving is for kiwi. If you simply just eat one kiwi, that would provide only 42 calories (10 g total carbohydrate, 2 g F, and 6 g S). If you do eat one cup worth of kiwi, it will provide 26 grams carbohydrate, 5.3 g F, vitamin E, and K, potassium, and folate. One kiwi provides more vitamin C than an orange (1).
One cup of sliced mango provides 99 calories, 24.7 grams carbohydrate, 2.6 g F, and 22.5 g S. If you slice and just eat the whole mango, depending on size, it could provide 25 additional calories. Mango is a good source of potassium, folate, and beta-carotene (1).
One cup of sliced nectarine is 63 calories and provides 15 grams of carbs (2.4 g F and 11 g S). They also provide vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium (1).
Most people don’t think of olives as a fruit. One cup of olives provides 8.9 g carbohydrates, 4.4 g F, and no sugar. Similar to avocados, they have more fat than carbohydrates and provide 14 g fat and 154 calories in one cup (1). Pre-portioned snack-size packets can be helpful to avoid eating too many.
One cup of orange segments provides 85 calories, 21.2 g grams carbohydrate, 4.3 g F, and 17 g S. But if you tend to just peel and eat an orange, one medium orange provides 62 calories, 15 grams carbs, and 3 grams F (1).
A cup of cubed papaya yields 62 calories, 15.7 grams carbs, 2.5 g F, and 11 g S. Papaya serves up a good amount of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant with heart health benefits. It also offers vitamin A and potassium (1).
One cup of sliced peach provides 60 calories, 14.7 grams carbohydrate, 2.3 g F, and 13 g S (1). Peaches can be eaten a variety of ways – raw, in salads, grilled, baked, and sautéed.
Just one cup of diced pear provides 85.5 calories from 22.8 grams of carbohydrate (4.7 g F and 14.6 g S) (1). Like peaches, pear are also versatile and can be baked, poached, added to salads. Be sure to eat the skin of the pear as that is where most of the nutrients are.
One cup of cubed pineapple provides 83 calories, 22 g carbohydrate, 2.3 g F, and 16 g S (1). The portion would also meet your vitamin C daily requirement.
A cup of sliced plum provides 76 calories, 18.8 g carbs, 2.3 g F, and 16.4 g S. It is more typical that you may just grab a small plum to bite into. In this case, one plum is about 30 calories coming from 7.5 grams of carbs (1).
One cup of pomegranate seeds provides 144 calories from 32.5 grams of carbohydrate (7 g F). One full pomegranate provides less than a cup of seeds so eating one pomegranate wouldn’t provide as much calories or carbs (1). A possible advantage of fresh pomegranate is that the challenge of removing the seeds could encourage portion control. Pomegranate seeds are great to add to salads or oats in the morning and the portion used is typically much smaller than one cup.
A cup of fresh raspberries provides 64 calories from 15 grams of carbs (with only 5.4 g S). They are a fiber powerhouse providing 8 grams per cup (1). If you look at net carbs, it means you are down to 7 grams per cup. This is the only fruit (along with blackberries) that offers more fiber than sugars.
Strawberries are at the top of the list as a good source of vitamin C. One cup of strawberries is 49 calories from 11.7 grams of carbohydrate (3 g F, 7.4 g S) (1).
A cup of tangerine provides 103 calories, 26 grams carbohydrate, 3.5 g F, and 20.6 g S. A single tangerine would provide less than a cup (53 calories) and therefore, may provide half that amount of sugar. Again, as citrus fruit, it is a great source of vitamin C and potassium (1).
Tomato is often grouped with vegetables but it grows on a vine and is a fruit. One cup of chopped tomato is only 32 calories and provides 7 g carbohydrates, 2.2 g F, and 4.7 g S. They are rich in lycopene (1).
Watermelons have high water content. One cup of cubed watermelon provides just 46 calories from 11.5 grams of carbohydrate ( 0.6 grams F). Watermelon is another good source of lycopene (1).
What Fruit Can I Eat on a Keto Diet?
Answer: To stay in ketosis (carbs per day < 50 grams), your fruit options may feel limited. However, you may be able to find several fruits that could work on this diet. Avocado is reasonable choice due to its high-fat content.
The carbs in avocados are mostly fiber so the net carbs are relatively low. Olives also provide more fat than carbohydrate. Tomatoes are technically a fruit and fairly low in calories and carbs.
Raspberries or blackberries, are very high in fiber making them a good choice. Additional options like plums, peaches, kiwi, apricots, carambola, and cantaloupe can also be eaten on a keto diet, as long as serving size suggestions are followed.
Is Apple a Low Carb Fruit?
Answer: One medium apple provides 94.6 calories, 25 g carb, 4.4 g F, and 18.9 g S (1. The nutritional profile is similar to other fruits like a medium mango. While there are other options that provide fewer carbs per fruit, apples can still fit into a moderate-carb regimen. In the keto world, it is considered one of the higher carb options. For a strict low-carb regimen, using 1/2 an apple can help keep you within your allotment.
Are Bananas Carbs?
Answer: Bananas have been discouraged on a ketogenic diet. If you are still wondering is a banana a carb? Yes, the calories in banana come from carbs and should be counted as such. One medium banana provides 27 g carb. The larger the size of the banana, the more carb. The carbs in bananas are 3 g F and 14.4 g S. They provide 1.3 g protein and minimal fat (1). For a ketogenic diet, it is considered one of the highest carb options.
For a moderate-carb diet, bananas are fine. Just like with the apple, it is easy to cut down on the carbohydrate content by using 1/2 banana. The advantages of bananas is that they are cheap and very accessible all year round. They make for a great grab and go snack and they have many uses. Add them to smoothies with spinach or kale, use in a peanut butter sandwich (with a high protein bread) instead of jelly, or add to a breakfast of granola, oats, or toast.
The Final Word
Fruits are a healthy food choice and offer health benefits. They tend to be rich sources of fiber, a nutrient that most of us struggle to get enough of. They also provide important micronutrients like vitamin C, folate, and potassium.
A healthy diet should include 1.5 to 2.5 cups of fruit per day, depending on the amount of calories recommended (2). The above-mentioned fruits can be included in low-carb diets.
If this is not possible in the case of very low-carb diets, it is recommended to include plenty of vegetables that are lower in carbs than fruit but offer similar antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Accessed May 29, 2020. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov.
- US Department of Health and Human Services; USDA. 2015-2020 Dietary guidelines for Americans. 8thed. Accessed May 30, 2020. http://health.gove/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines.