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Fruitful weight loss: The best low-calorie fruits to eat

Delicious, sweet and healthy.

Fruitful Weight Loss: The Best Low-Calorie Fruits to Eat | Juniper

The health benefits and importance of fruit in maintaining a balanced diet are pretty well known, but it can be hard to reconcile that with the fact that so few people are getting enough of it. In fact, a recent US study found that just 12% of adults are getting adequate levels of fruit in their diet [2], and the impact that this has on an individual's overall health can be staggering.

After all, eating fruit isn't just about getting enough dietary fibre, getting the right amount can lead to reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as help with controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and weight [3].

If you're on a weight loss journey, you might be steering clear of fruit due to its natural sugar content. But, there are a number of low-calorie fruits that can both contribute to a healthy diet and support weight loss in a positive and sustainable way.

What are the best fruits to eat when on a weight loss journey?

There can be a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to low-calorie fruit, particularly given certain fruits can be nutrient-dense while also having a high-calorie count and being full of excess natural sugars.

So, what are the fruits you should be looking out for to not just limit your calorie intake, but keep your body sustained, healthy and active?

Kiwi fruit

Kiwi fruit is a hot topic these days when it comes to health as this nutrient-dense fruit is not only low in calories but has been found to have innumerable health benefits beyond it.

High in vitamin C, dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin E and folate [4], kiwis have been found to be an asset in maintaining gut health, as well as immune and metabolic health.

  • Kiwi calories per serve: 44

Apples

Everyone knows the expression an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it may not be so far from the truth.

Numerous epidemiological studies have found that the large amount of antioxidant activity in apples may play a large role in reducing the risk of a range of chronic diseases, from heart disease to asthma to type 2 diabetes.

It's also been found to positively increase lung function and promote weight loss [5], making it a perfect feature of a healthy diet.

  • Apple calories per serve: 72 [1]

Blackberries

Packed with vitamins C, K and E, blackberries also contain phytochemicals that are a significant support when it comes to chronic disease.

These phytochemicals are also found to have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce blood pressure, protect brain health, and enhance cognitive function. Some studies have even found that they may help to reduce the chance of age-related cognitive disorders such as dementia [6].

  • Blackberries calories per serve: 60

Dragon fruit

Like kiwi fruit, dragon fruit has found its way front and centre of recent health conversations for its many benefits. In particular, the numerous antioxidants in dragon fruit have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects.

This means dragon fruit can be a huge asset in supporting immune function [7]. Being a low-calorie fruit and possessing almost no fat, its fruit peels have even recently been used to replace partial fat in products such as ice cream, so check the ingredients on the box next time you want to appease that sweet tooth.

  • Dragon fruit calories per serve: 102

Grapefruit

Is there anything grapefruit can't do? While it's mostly water, it also has high levels of vitamin C (so high that just one whole, medium grapefruit gives you 100% of your daily requirement!) and vitamin A.

Along with its high fibre content, grapefruit helps regulate blood pressure, supporting heart health and gut health, and can keep your cholesterol levels in check [8].

  • Grapefruit calories per serve: 104

Blueberries

Another champion when it comes to combatting heart disease, blueberries are the sort of superfood that is hard to beat.

Not only do they help with cardiovascular support, but have been found to improve memory and cognition, and support weight loss and digestive function [9]. Plus, they're the perfect addition to any breakfast, whether you're thinking yoghurt, oats or pancakes.

  • Blueberries calories per serve (1 cup): 83 calories [1]

Cherries

Another rich source of polyphenols and vitamin C, cherries are more than just a Christmas classic.

In one study, the consumption of cherries was found to decrease markers for oxidative stress, inflammation, muscle soreness and loss of strength, blood pressure, arthritis and even improve sleep [10].

  • Cherries calories per serve (10 cherries): 44

Oranges

Often touted as the poster child for vitamin C (although grapefruit is the true hero there), oranges should be better known for being chock-full of potent antioxidants as well as essential nutrients like folate.

Add to that its low glycemic index means that oranges are vital in not just supporting blood sugar levels but in giving your immune system a real boost [11].

  • Oranges calories per 100 grams: 41 calories

Peaches

One of the stone fruits of the summer, peaches are rich in healthy carbohydrates, fibre and even protein. They're also a very nutrient-dense fruit, containing 2% or more daily value of vitamins E and K, niacin, folate, iron, choline, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and copper (phew!).

Peaches can assist the immune system, help regulate blood pressure and have also been found to promote bone health making them a perfect low-calorie treat [12].

  • Peaches calories per 100g: 39

Pears

One of the oldest plants to be cultivated by man, fresh pears are known for being high in dietary fibre, fructose and vital antioxidants, making them crucial support of gut health.

It's also been suggested in some animal studies that pears may help regulate alcohol metabolism, protect against stomach ulcers and lower plasma lipids [13].

  • Pear calories per serve: 100

Pineapple

Rich in bioactive compounds, dietary fibre, minerals and nutrients, pineapple is especially beneficial in monitoring nervous system function, anti-inflammatory function and supporting gut health and bowel movements [14].

  • Pineapple calories per 100 grams: 36

Plums

As stone fruits, plums share many of the same health benefits as peaches, particularly in their antioxidant properties and because they contain anthocyanins (which are responsible for the dark-coloured skin of the fruit).

They're high in anti-inflammatory properties and have been known to help promote weight loss, help manage blood sugar and regulate appetite. They also contain calcium which some studies have found ensures blood clots normally [15].

  • Plums calories per 100 grams: 46

Pomegranate

Despite only 50% of a pomegranate being edible, this fruit is rich in nutrients and is particularly known for its antimicrobial activity.

In other words, pomegranates can help bolster your immune system and help support your digestion by combatting bacteria. It's also rich in anticarcinogenic nutrients that can help protect against cancer and has been found to have antioxidants that are valuable for your skin health [16].

  • Pomegranate calories per 100 grams: 83

Raspberries

Possessing several essential micronutrients, dietary fibres and polyphenolic components, raspberries are known for their ability to reduce the risk of, and maybe even reverse, some metabolic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity [17].

  • Raspberries calories per 100 grams: 53

Grapes

A rich source of bioactive compounds including phenolic acids, flavonoids and many more, grapes have recently been found to have a positive effect on hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, making it a vital, low-calorie fruit in heart health [18].

  • Grapes calories per 100 grams: 65

Strawberries

Like many of the other berries on this list, strawberries have been found to be not only delicious but have many health-promoting and disease-preventive effects. They're high in vitamin C, fibre, potassium and antioxidants, and are a perfect addition to your healthy smoothie.

  • Strawberries calories per 100 grams: 25

Watermelon

High in water and low in calories, watermelon (along with other melons such as rockmelon and honeydew) is refreshing and hydrating, making them particularly beneficial to have after exercise and in the summer.

It also contains antioxidants and an amino acid known to improve cholesterol levels, relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure [19].

  • Watermelon calories per 1 cup serving: 45-60

Passionfruit

Where to start with passionfruit? This small fruit contains a healthy mix of dietary fibre, carbohydrates, lipids, carboxylic acids, polyphenols, protein and amino acids, vitamins, minerals and more (phew!).

All of these together make passionfruit more than just a low-calorie snack, but an immune boost in the form of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-hypertensive activity.

On top of that, it's been found to protect against liver and lung injury, pancreatitis, coronary heart disease and more. Some studies have even suggested that eating the stems can have an antidepressant effect [20].

  • Passionfruit calories per 100 grams: 97

Mango

High in phytochemicals, vitamin E and vitamin C, among other vitamins and minerals, mangoes are largely regarded as a superfruit when it comes to helping in the prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease [21]. They're also a delicious, low-calorie addition to salads, curries and desserts.

  • Mango calories per 100 grams: 56

Papaya

Speaking of delicious additions to salads, papayas are another low-calorie fruit high in vitamin C and other antioxidants.

In particular, papaya has been found to have a significant effect on skin health, particularly in wound healing and skin ageing [22].

  • Papaya calories per 100 grams: 32

Lychee

Like many of the fruits on this list, lychees are rich in carbohydrates and fibres, while also possessing many micronutrients such as vitamins C, E and K, carotenoids, minerals (potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, zinc, manganese and selenium), and polyphenols.

They've been found to be particularly protective against tumour development, making them more than just a great weight loss fruit, but a health-promoting and protective snack [23].

  • Lychee calories per 100 grams: 66

Fruits to eat in moderation when losing weight

All fruit should be eaten in moderation when losing weight, even the low-calorie fruits we've listed above. Variety is the spice of life, and it's certainly a crucial factor in having a healthy diet too.

In particular though, try to prioritise fresh or frozen fruit, as dried fruit loses its water content, and juiced fruit loses its fibre. It doesn't make them unhealthy, but it means you get less nutritional benefit than when you eat them fresh.

What fruit is high in calories?

There are a few fruits that you may want to avoid eating in large amounts if you're looking to lose weight. But, it's important to remember that all fruit has health benefits, particularly when it comes to their fibre, vitamin, and mineral content.

Things to keep in mind are:

  • 1 avocado contains 322 calories, making it quite a high-calorie fruit. That said, it also contains almost 60% of your daily fibre requirement and is chock full of good fats that can support heart health.
  • 1 cup of coconut contains 283 calories, but it's also been found to support bone health and heart health.
  • 2 dates contain 133 calories, but they've also been found to support gut and bone health, and have even been found to help induce birth and shorten the length of labour [24]. So, if you're past your due date (pun intended), they might be just what the doctor ordered.

Taking a balanced approach to weight loss

While maintaining a healthy weight sometimes does involve weight loss, taking a holistic and balanced approach to your diet and lifestyle is the way to make active and sustainable changes that can help you look and feel your best.

Exploring ways you can do this with delicious and low-calorie fruits is great, but engaging with supportive and communal programs such as Juniper's Weight Reset Programme can help.

Our programme was created to help you achieve long-term weight loss with a mixture of breakthrough medication, which regulates digestion, reduces your appetite, and lowers your set point, and behavioural changes guided by our health coaches and clinicians.

The holistic programme teaches you how to change your relationship with food and exercise and gives you the tools to make long-term changes for lasting weight loss. This means once you've lost weight, you'll also have the knowledge of how to continue to make healthy choices in the future.

Photo credit: Jane Doan / Pexels

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