Eat real food.  We encourage people to eat as much real food as possible, and this includes consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Fruit is delicious.  However, not all fruits are created equal. Enter, the fruit spectrum.

Don’t get me wrong.  Fruit contains a ton of vitamins and minerals, and many fruits have a host of health benefits.  If you are ever debating between fruit and a candy bar, there should be no debate.  Fruit wins every single time because even if it is a fruit that is heavy in sugar, you are getting vitamins and minerals when you eat the fruit.  The candy bar is just processed junk, full of sugar and scary ingredients.

So, what are the best and worst fruits?  When I look at fruits, I prefer to look at the entire nutritional profile of the fruit.  Today, we’ve got our version of the fruit spectrum for you, listing out the fruits that pack the biggest nutritional punch and some that you could probably do without.

Our Favorites

Avocado

Avocado ranks number one on our version of the fruit spectrum.  You are probably already aware that it is full of healthy fats, but did you know that the avocado also contains 20 different vitamins and minerals?  Avocados are a great source of vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium {move over bananas}, fiber, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.  One cup of avocado contains 21 grams of healthy fats, 2.9 grams of protein, and just 12 grams of carbohydrates {2 grams of net carbs}.

For those looking for foods high in good fats but low in carbohydrates, the avocado is a winner all the way.  Not sure how to incorporate avocado?  Try blending avocado into your smoothie, add it to your salad, or eat it as a breakfast side with your eggs.  

Grapefruit

I have a poor perception of grapefruit.  I remember my dad trying the Atkins diet many moons ago, and I remember him eating half of a grapefruit for breakfast.  Yuck.  You probably already can guess that grapefruit is low in sugar.  While low in sugar, grapefruit is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.  It also has been shown to aid weight loss and reduce insulin resistance.

It is important to know that grapefruit can interact with and should be avoided if you take certain medications.  If you are taking medications, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor.  Also, if you have sensitive teeth, the citric acid, found in many citrus fruits, can cause enamel erosion if consumed in excess.

If you don’t love grapefruit, but you want to incorporate it into your diet, I have found that it works really well in salads.  It does have health benefits and falls high on the fruit spectrum, so try mixing it with arugula, some shaved Brussels sprouts, avocado, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and Primal Kitchen Lemon Turmeric dressing.

Blueberries

In terms of berries, blueberries rank at the top for us.  They are considered a superfood due to their high levels of antioxidants.  Blueberries are actually believed to contain the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables.  

Blueberries also contain vitamins and minerals such as fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese.  One full cup of blueberries {that’s a lot of berries} contains 15 grams of carbohydrates, so they do contain a little more sugar than other berries.  However, their powerhouse nutritional profile balances this out in my opinion.

Throw some blueberries into your full fat Greek yogurt for breakfast, grab a handful for a snack, or add them to your salad at lunch.  They are one of the most nutrient dense berries, so if you are looking for something to conquer your fruit craving, the blueberry is a great option.

Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the most consumed fruits in our home.  In fact, I haven’t met many people that have an aversion to strawberries.  They can work well for dessert, they have a perfect amount of sweetness, and they are full of antioxidants.  They are rich in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber.

Strawberries have been shown to be beneficial in improving immune function, lowering blood pressure, improving symptoms of arthritis and gout, regulating blood sugar, regulating mood, and improving allergy symptoms.  Strawberries rank high on our fruit spectrum due to their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

I love a great dessert of a few strawberries, one square of high quality dark chocolate, and some sharp cheddar cheese.

One note on strawberries.  Buy organic strawberries if at all possible.  These little bites of deliciousness consistently rank on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.

Apricots

Apricots make the list for a few reasons.  They are easy to transport, they contain few carbs {just 3.8 in an average size apricot}, and they do contain some micronutrients.  Apricots are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium.  They also contain phytonutrients such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and beta-carotene.

We use apricots for a quick snack if we will be on go.  They are easy to consume.  Apricots also work well in school lunches, and can be a great option for your kids.

Raspberries

Here comes yet another berry on the list.  Overall, most berries are a great option.  Raspberries are no different.  They are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, and they also contain high amounts of ellagic acid {which has been shown to help lower the risk of cancer}.

Specifically, raspberries contain vitamin C, manganese, dietary fiber, B vitamins, folic acid, copper, and iron.  These little berries are sweet, but they contain just 5 grams of sugar in one cup.

If you are watching your carbohydrate intake, raspberries can be a go to since they contain just 7 net carbs.  They are great as a snack, in smoothies, or you can even throw a few in your sparkling water.

The Lower End

When it comes to fruits that I prefer to avoid, I usually avoid them due to the heavy sugar content.  Note that we do eat some of these fruits.  However, the fall low on the fruit spectrum, so we just don’t eat them daily.

Again, if your are choosing between some pineapple and a few cookies, go with the pineapple.  Duh.

So, here are a few common fruits that you might want to swap for a more nutrient dense fruit:

  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Mango
  • Banana
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Apple

Also, watch out for fruit juices as well as dried fruits.  Most of the time, these are extremely high in sugar.  It can get confusing because the label often claims superfood status.  However, look at Odwalla Superfood Smoothie.  It contains a whopping 58 grams of carbohydrates, 51 grams of which are sugar.  Yikes.  I don’t know about you, but that’s more sugar than I wish to consume in an entire day.

When it comes to dried fruit, if you must buy it, always look for the unsweetened variety.  This can be tough to find, but if you don’t see it at your local grocery store, check out Thrive Market.

Get the most out of your fruits.

For me, fruits in moderation definitely have a place in my diet.  When looking at fruits, try to get the most out of your fruit.  Choose fruits that have the best nutritional profile and fall high on the fruit spectrum.  Try to eat fruits high in sugar occasionally instead of every single day.  Stay away from fruit juices and dried fruits if you can.

Enjoy!

~KP

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