“Fruits are nature’s candy.” True, fruits are thankfully bereft of processed sugars, additives, inflammatory flour, trans fats, and the panoply of other issues associated with conventional desserts or sweets. We should most always opt for fruits over processed desserts (which is tough for me to say since I love tiramisu and cold desserts like a mother loves her daughter). Though fruits are preferable to “franken-sweets” that does not mean we should be eating all types of fruits all day. We should veer toward what I like to call Nutrient-Dense, Low-Glycemic Superfruits.
A great compendium to this article are the 25 Superfruits You Should Be Eating Daily.
Nutrient-Dense, Low-Glycemic Superfruits
Fruits contain sugar….mostly fructose which is broken down by the liver. Though fructose is deemed to be healthier thank glucose or sucrose, it still elevates your blood sugar when ingested. Your pancreas then releases insulin which serves as a key to get that sugar into your organs and muscles to be used as energy. (Incidentally, Type II Diabetes is when the insulin can’t “unlock” the doors to funnel the sugar into the organs, thus resulting in not only abnormally high sugar levels, but also insulin levels.)
High insulin levels is called insulin resistance. Persistent insulin in the body leads to fat storage, inflammation, diabetes, heart problems and of course, obesity. So we don’t want to eat foods that will spike our sugar and insulin levels. The best way to accomplish this is to eat foods that are low in the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL).
The Glycemic Index looks at the effect of sugar on the body. The Glycemic Load looks at that as well as the amounts of carbs as well. Therefore, the Glycemic Load is a better indicator of how these fruits affect us. Most foods high on the GI are high on the GL, but some fruits like watermelon or strawberries have such a low amount of carbs per serving they score moderate on the GI but very, very low on the GI.
Obviously sugar, processed grains (like bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, brownies, and alike), rice, potatoes and other simple carb foods score high on the GI and GL. They also score high on making you obese. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) So let’s minimize our intake of these processed foods which bring out pre-diabetes and diabetes.
We don’t want to eschew fruits altogether. Fruits offer fiber and roughage which slow the release of sugar and insulin into the body when ingested so the body can better handle it. Fiber is very important to digestive health and weight maintenance so we want to eat foods high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble.
We do want to avoid fruit juices, conventional or even homemade. Aside from pure green juices, which are made mostly from vegetables, regular juices have all the sugar of the fruit but none of the fiber to slow the release of sugar and insulin into the body. This results in a big shot of sugar which overwhelms the body.
That being said, fruits offer an exhaustive supply of micronutrients (e.g. vitamins, minerals, enzymes, “healthy” fats, and alike). So the perfect compromise is to ingest low-sugar but high nutrition fruits. These fruits tend to great fighters of inflammation and bolsterer of the immune system. Here are few of the best Nutrient-Dense, Low-Glycemic Superfruits.
Many don’t like the consistency of blackberries but there is no denying their superfood, superfruit status. One cup of them yields 50% of your daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C. They boast healthy amounts of manganese, Vitamin K and E. Blackberries are strong anti-oxidants which fights against cancer and inflammation. (You will find this consistent running theme through all these superfruits.
One cup of blackberries has nine (9) grams of fiber, which is close to 1/3 of your daily recommended amount. One serving only has 60 calories, 14 carb and scores a 25 on the glycemic index and a 6 on the glycemic load. The glycemic index ranges from 0-100; anything below 50 is considered low. The glycemic load number’s reveal that anything between 11-20 as moderate; anything under 10 is ideal.
Blackberries are in the ruling elite of Nutrient-Dense, Low-Glycemic Superfruits. They might not have the lowest GL number but they pack the most fiber of all fruits. They are easy to incorporate into your diet. Eat them solo or put them in smoothies, yogurt bowls, oatmeal or cereals. Try to buy them organic since blackberries commonly score high on the EWG’s Annual Dirty Dozen, most-pesticide laden produce.
Check out our incredible Smoothie Recipe.
Check our our amazing Yogurt Bowl Recipe.
Cherries are compact, versatile, and hardy. (My toddler can’t squash these into a liquid parfait in a snack bag like she can raspberries.) They are loaded with Vitamin C and potassium and serve as great antioxidants. Drinking lots of alcohol but eating the maraschino cherries in your mixed drinks does NOT constitute a sound way to get these “super balls” in your body. Cherries have less fiber than other super fruits (3 grams per serving) but they are still low in calories.
Cherries may be expensive so buy them frozen or when in-season. Canned cherries are okay so long as they are not preserved with added sugar. (Not much you can do about the BPA in the lining.) Also, cherries too tend to score high on the “Dirty Dozen” list so buy organic if possible. They score a 20 on the glycemic index and a 6 on the glycemic load, so they are definite Nutrient-Dense, Low-Glycemic Superfruits .
Read our article on the most-sugar laden SuperFoods You Want To Avoid.
Is it really a surprise that blueberries would be on this list? They are the king of plant nutrition (phyonutrition). They boast phenomenal amounts of the antioxidants Vitamin C & E, plus potassium and fiber. One cup of wild blueberries contain 80 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 16 grams of carbs. Studies link them as a natural weapon against high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer.
They score a 45 on the glycemic index and a 6 on the glycemic load index. Wild blueberries are the most nutrient-packed, followed by organic ones and then convention. Luckily you can find frozen blueberries at virtually ever store in the nation. Purchase them organic since they score high on the Dirty Dozen list. Blueberries are best in smoothies, yogurt bowls, and pretty much everywhere else blackberries are consumed.
Listen to our Occult Health episode on 12 Keto, Paleo Desserts. Blueberries feature prominently in it.
While I’m not a big fan of the tangy taste of grapefruit, there is no denying they are one of the Nutrient-Dense Low-Glycemic Superfruits. A half of a grapefruit boast 3 grams of fiber, 45 calories, and 7 grams of carbs. They are connected to weight loss, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and like all fruits with high doses of Vitamins C & E, bolster your immune system.
Eat grapefruit. Grapefruits score a 25 on the glycemic index and a 3 on the glycemic load index. Unlike the aforementioned, grapefruits do NOT need to be purchased organic. They score low on absorbing pesticides. Consume them in the morning with a ring of sugar on them or just suck it up and eat is as is. Avoid grapefruit juice.
Is it a surprise yet another member of the “berry” family is here? Strawberries have a great amount of Vitamins C & E, potassium, folate, and manganese. Similar to the other fruits they fight against inflammation, cancer, and infections. One cup of strawberries boast 32 calories, only 7 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of sugar. They do have 2 grams of fiber.
Strawberries score a 44 on the glycemic index and a discombobulating 1 on the glycemic load index. For this reason, they are king of the the king of the glycemic load index, the ultimate indicator of sugar absorption in the body. Eat them in every way imaginable. Opt for organic or wild since strawberries ALWAYS score high on the Dirty Dozen pesticide list.
Read our article on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.
The 18th century savior of scurvy, lemons and limes are perhaps the most one-sided fruits out there. Most people can’t eat them as a stand alone fruit, but love them cut up in fruit-infused waters, in cocktails, or limeades. Some even love the key lime pie. (I can tolerate them.)
That being said, limes boast 33% of your daily recommend allowance for Vitamin C. (The number designated by the government is way too low by the way. Consume as much Vitamin C in pill, food, or IV form as you like.) They also have just 11 calories, a gram of fiber, and less than a gram of sugar.
Limes score a 21 on the GI and an amazing 1 on the GL. Squirt them into your drinks daily. (Lemons are 25 on the GI and 3 on the GL.) Incidentally, they don’t need to be purchased organic as limes (and lemons) rarely score high on the Dirty Dozen. Check out our most-popular Fruit-Infused Water Drink Recipe.
Please don’t let the overall takeaway be that you should avoid fruits at all costs. In a society where pre-diabetes and diabetes are out of control, we should practice a little more judiciousness on WHICH fruit we turn to the most. These Nutrient-Dense Low-Glycemic Superfruits along with other low GI/GL fruits such as apples, apricots, plums, and pears are the ones on which we should focus our attention.
We embrace naturopathy. The belief that clean eating, proper nutrition, botanical medicine, aromatherapy, and alike should be used to prevent medical maladies and to treat chronic conditions. Drugs should be the LAST resort; not the first.
A. Gregory Luna
Please check out my memoirs Confession of an Obese Child on Amazon Kindle! I talk about how I lost over 100 pounds and have kept it off for over 25 years!