While we've all heard that a heart healthy diet consists of eating fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you may be surprised to learn that not all of them are equally nutritious. Most contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, but the number of calories contained in the fruits and vegetables you eat can have dramatic effects for healthy individuals and people suffering from metabolic diseases such as diabetes. The number of calories and carbohydrates are important when planning your menus.
Fruits are a wonderful source of carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals and fiber. But, that can be where the similarities end. A list of commonly eaten fruits include the following: one average apple (44 calories), blueberries (49 calories per 100 g), whole grapefruit (100 calories), one large orange (100 calories), diced papaya (67 calories per 20 g) and dates (250 calories). Some choices that are lower in calories are clementines (24 calories), figs (10 calories), seedless grapes (50 calories) and kiwi (34 calories).
Vegetables are a great way to ensure you're getting adequate vitamins and minerals in your diet and are a good source of fiber. Traditionally, vegetables have lower caloric and carbohydrate contents than fruits. Some good choices include asparagus (26 calories), broccoli (32 calories per 100 g), celery (8 calories), mushrooms (15 calories), pumpkin (12 calories), radishes (13 calories), spinach (23 calories), sweet corn (24 calories), tomatoes (18 calories) and yams (110 calories).
Balancing the Highs with the Lows
Although a fruit or vegetable contains relatively few calories, it may have a high carbohydrate content. For instance, one serving of sweet corn contains 24 calories, but has 12 g of carbohydrates, whereas one serving of onions has 35 calories but only 3 g of carbohydrates. So, if you're counting your carbs, don't assume that low calories equals low carbohydrates. You need to become familiar with the calories and carbs in your food.