To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Friday, July 8, 2011

Low Carb/High Carb Fruits

Berries like those above tend to have much less sugar/carbs than other fruits like oranges, kiwifruit, and pears.  Photo courtesy of

A lot of people have asked me lately about PCOS and insulin resistance, and specifically why I eat the way I do (low carb/sugar).  Having PCOS nearly always means that you will have some form of insulin resistance.  For me, it meant years of dizziness and nausea for no apparent reason.  Doctors essentially told me I was crazy; one even prescribed anxiety/depression meds to help me cope with my "mental health issues" which were "obviously" making me a hypochondriac.  Ummm, no thanks.

When I finally was diagnosed with PCOS, I learned of the significance of the correlation between carbs and what goes on in a PCOS'ers body; and it all began to make sense.  (So, contrary to popular belief, I wasn't crazy!  Hooray!)

Something to remember is that PCOS is a brain problem more than anything else.  For some reason, women with PCOS have a hypothalamus and/or pituitary gland that call for too much of the androgens that are in everyone's bodies like testosterone, estrogen, etc. to be created by the ovaries and other glands.  It is thought that these excess androgens can make the body of a PCOS woman sluggish in the way that it deals with insulin once it is secreted by the pancreas.  As we all know, insulin helps the body break down sugar (specifically glucose).  If the body has a hard time breaking down glucose it can lead to all sorts of issues including obesity and even Diabetes (  You do not have to be obese or have Diabetes to have insulin resistance.

So, what's the best thing to do?  Well, diet and exercise are the easiest and cheapest ways to start combating this inward struggle in the body.  Eating a low carb diet and exercising for 45 minutes to an hour each day has helped me tremendously.  But when it comes to knowing what to eat (or not eat) has been an on-going learning curve for me.  Luckily, there are tons of resources out there for us - you are NOT alone!

I thought I'd take some time over the next few months to highlight good, low-carb foods and recipes every once and a while.  Today, I thought I'd start with raw fruits.  There's a lot of information about raw fruits and fructose (fruit sugar) and how it affects the insulin resistant body.  While all fruit contains sugar, there is much debate on how raw, natural fructose and starches are broken down in the body.  Some say, eat them up!  Because they're raw and natural, it will take the body longer to break these carbs down anyway.  Others say that this fact doesn't matter, sugar is sugar, and it will still affect the body negatively if one is insulin resistant.

I'm no expert in these areas.  I'm not a doctor, nor am I a nutritionist; but I have lived through many experiences and "experiments" with my body and carbs over the past few years.  Personally, I have discovered that fructose makes me feel just as terrible as straight-up cane sugar.  I learned this the hard way after eating an inordinate amount of luscious, ripe cherries a few months ago - not good.

It's hard to imagine something as wholesome and fresh-off-the-vine as fruit could make someone feel terrible; but if you're IR, then you'll understand what I mean.  The following is a list of fruits in accordance to their carb volume (effective {"net"} carbohydrates).  I try to stick to the low and low-to-medium categories on a daily basis (of course, every once in a while I allow myself a "treat"!).

Low Carb Content

lemon (1 tbl. = 1 gr. net carbs)

lime (1 tbl. = 1 gr. net carbs)

rhubarb (1/2 c. diced = 1.5 gr. net carbs)

raspberries (1/2 c. fresh or frozen {as long as there is no added sugar} = 3.5 gr. net carbs)

blackberries (1/2 c. = 3.5 gr. net carbs)

cranberries (1 oz. = 2 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. = 4 gr. net carbs)

Low-to-Medium Carb Content

strawberries (1/2 c. = 5 gr. net carbs, 1 large strawberry {1 3/8" diameter} = 1 gr. net carbs)

casaba melon (1/2 c. = 5 gr. net carbs, 1 wedge {5 oz. or 1/10th of melon} = 10 gr. net carbs)

papaya (1/2 c. = 6 gr. net carbs, 1 medium-sized papaya {5" long x 3" wide} = 25 gr. net carbs)

watermelon (1/2 c. = 5.5 gr. net carbs, 1 wedge {10 oz. or 1/16th of melon} = 22 gr. net carbs)

peaches (1/2 c. = 6.5 gr. net carbs, 1 medium peach {approx. 2 2/3" diameter} = 12 gr. net carbs)

nectarines (1/2 c. = 6.5 gr. net carbs, 1 medium nectarine {approx. 2 1/2" diameter} = 13 gr. net carbs)

blueberries (1/2 c. = 9 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. frozen, unsweetened blueberries = 7 gr. net carbs)

cantelope (1/2 c. = 7 gr. net carbs, 1 medium wedge {5 oz. or 1/8th of melon} = 6 gr. net carbs)

honeydew melon (1/2 c. = 7 gr. net carbs), 1 wedge {1/8th of 5-6 in. diameter melon} = 15 gr. net carbs)

apples (1/2 c. = 7 gr. net carbs, 1 medium apple {3" diameter} = 21 gr. net carbs)

guava (1/2 c. = 7 gr. net carbs, 1 medium guava {including seeds and skin, about 2 oz.} = 5 gr. net carbs)

apricot (1/2 c. = 7.5 gr. net carbs, 1 medium apricot (35 grams or a little over 1 oz.} = 3 gr. net carbs)

grapefruit (1/2 medium white grapefruit {3 3/4" diameter} = 9 gr. net carbs, 1 medium red or pink grapefruit {3 3/4" diameter} = 11 gr. net carbs)

High Carb Content

plums (1/2 c. = 8 gr. net carbs, 1 medium plum {2 1/8th in. diameter} = 8 gr. net carbs)

oranges (1/2 c. orange sections = 8.4 gr. net carbs, 1 medium orange {2 2/3" diameter or 4.5 oz.} = 12 gr. net carbs)

kiwi (1 medium kiwi, minus skin {a little less than 3 oz.} = 9 gr. net carbs, 1 large kiwi, minus skin {about 3 1/4 oz.} = 10 gr. net carbs)

pears (1 small pear = 18 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. pears = 10 gr. net carbs)

pineapple (1/2 c. pineapple chunks {3 oz.} = 10 gr. net carbs, 1 pineapple slice {3/4" thick by 3 1/2" diameter} = 10 gr. net carbs)

Very High Carb Content

tangerines (1/2 c. tangerine slices = 11 gr. net carbs, 1 medium tangerine {2 1/2" diameter} = 12 gr. net carbs)

cherries (1 sweet cherry = 1 gr. net carbs, 3.5 oz. {100 gr.} cherries w/pits {about 3/4 c.} = 14 gr. net carbs)

grapes (1/2 c. grapes {about 12 medium-sized grapes or 2.5 oz.} = 13 gr. net carbs)

pomegranate (1 oz. = 5 gr. net carbs, 1 medium pomegranate {slightly less than 3.5" diameter or 5.5 oz.} = 25 gr. net carbs)

mango (1/2 c. = 13 gr. net carbs, 1 medium mango {approx. 7.5 oz., minus pit} = 35 gr. net carbs)

fig (1 large, fresh fig {2 1/2" diameter, a little over 2 oz.) = 10 gr. net carbs, 1/4 c. chopped figs = 23 gr. net carbs, 1 oz. dried figs = 15 gr. net carbs)

banana (1/2 c. sliced banana = 15 gr. net carbs, 1 medium banana {7-7 1/2" long} = 24 gr. net carbs)

dried fruits (1/2 c. chopped dates = 24 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. seedless raisins, packed = 31 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. dried apricots = 36 gr. net carbs, 1/2 c. pitted prunes = 49 gr. net carbs)

The first time I read this list I was over-whelmed by the amount of net carbs that can be found in nutritious, raw (and dried) fruits.  At times, it's a little disappointing; because I'm a huge fruit fan.  However, I've learned that it's not necessarily about totally cutting all of these fruits out of my diet; but about limiting their use and amounts.  So, I can still enjoy watermelon and pineapple, just not as much and in moderation.

I hope this will help you as much as it has helped me!  More information can be found here:

Be Well,

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