Carb-Watchers Can Enjoy Fresh Summer Fruits


(ARA) - Yes, even carb-watchers can enjoy their favorite summer fruits this season.

While some of the most popular new diet plans leave an impression that the produce department should be avoided, eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day is vital to healthy low-carb eating. The truth is, many “low carb” plans allow for the consumption of carbohydrates at some point. Diets such as, “The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet,” “Sugar Busters!” and “The Zone” advocate a diet that balances carbohydrates, proteins and fats, rather than eliminating carbs from the diet completely. The “South Beach Diet” actually advocates the consumption of “good carbs” found in fruits and vegetables. And even the strict “Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution” allows “nutrient rich” carbohydrates back into the diet following the initial two-week induction phase.

For those following any of these diets, fresh summer fruits are most certainly considered nutrient-rich foods. There are many things inside fresh fruits and vegetables that make them highly beneficial. They provide an array of vitamins, potassium and dietary fiber in addition to important phytonutrients that are thought to protect against cancer, heart disease and other diseases associated with aging.

Specifically, fresh peaches, plums and nectarines, found in abundant supply throughout the summer, contain the antioxidant, beta carotene, which may protect against cancer, heart disease and other diseases associated with aging. These fruits also have two carotenoids -- luitein and zeaxanthin -- which filter and shield the eye from sunlight, thereby protecting against age-related eye disorders such as macular generation and cataracts. Peaches and plums also contain flavonoids, including some of those found in green tea. Current research has shown that flavonoids may protect humans against cancer and heart disease.

You won’t get all of this in a carb-free burger.

Another thing to consider when choosing carbohydrates is the Glycemic Index (GI) or Glycemic Load (GL). Low-carb diet proponents often focus heavily on the connection between insulin levels in the blood and how continuous high levels of insulin can contribute to obesity. Because of this theory, low-carb systems often rate foods according to their glycemic index value, which indicates how quickly the carbohydrates in a food affect blood sugar. Meanwhile, glycemic load takes into account a food’s glycemic index along with its carbohydrate content in a given serving size, providing an estimate of the quality and quantity of carbohydrate eaten.

Either way you slice it, fruits like peaches, plums and nectarines all have low glycemic index and low glycemic load values. According to the “New Glucose Revolution Complete Guide to Glycemic Index Values,” fresh peaches on average have a GI of 42, which is considered low, while plums have a GI of 39. They also have a Glycemic Load of about 7, which is also low. As for carbohydrate content, one medium peach or nectarine contains 16 grams of net carbohydrates and two plums contain 19 net carbs. Peaches, plums and nectarines are also low in calories -- 70 for a peach or nectarine and 80 for two plums.

For those who choose low-carb diets, fresh fruits and vegetables should not be eliminated from everyday life. Simply try to select fruits and vegetables that contain low to moderate amounts of carbohydrates, or are low on the GL and GI scales.

The carbohydrates found in fruit such as peaches, plums and nectarines are truly quality carbs. These fruits are plentiful during the summer and they are perfect eaten out-of-hand as a simple dessert or snack any time. They also lend themselves well to recipes that focus on fresh, healthy, low-calorie eating. For example, fresh peaches, plums or nectarines can be added to a green salad to add some zing. They can be blended with fat-free, or low-carb yogurt for a great smoothie. Or try them grilled on the barbeque as a side dish to meats or as a luscious and satisfying dessert.

For breakfast, try a fresh fruit frittata. With just 8 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of fat and 8 grams of protein, the tasty egg dish below will liven up your morning and fits just about any of the popular new low-carb diet plans.

Summer Fruit Frittata

In heavy, ovenproof 10-inch fry pan, sauté 1 clove minced garlic and 1 small onion, thinly sliced, in 1 tablespoon olive oil just until wilted. Add 6 ounces chopped fresh spinach and heat through, blending with the onion and garlic. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. Remove from heat. Remove pits and slice 2 large fresh California peaches or nectarines, or 3 large California plums and arrange slices on top of spinach mixture. Beat 6 eggs with 2 tablespoons water and pour over all ingredients. Top with 1/4 cup shredded Muenster cheese. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves, if desired. Bake at 325 F for 30 to 45 minutes or until set. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving -- protein: 8 grams; fat: 9 grams; carbohydrate: 8 grams; fiber: 2 grams; sodium: 320 milligrams; cholesterol: 150 milligrams; calories: 130 calories.

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Courtesy of ARA Content