Weightlifters add them to protein shakes and people on a weight loss regimen tend to use them to replace meals and fatty snacks. Most kids even love them and many varieties don’t require any preparation to enjoy. Best of all, they’re a good source of important nutrients like potassium, calcium, and vitamins A, E, K, C, and B6.
Yes, fruits have a great many health benefits and should certainly form a significant part of your diet, especially if you’re interested in weight loss or maintaining your current weight. It’s important to be cautious about which fruits you eat because some of them have surprisingly high levels of calories and sugar content.
No matter what your health and fitness goals are, adding high-protein fruit to your diet can help you accomplish them and boost your overall wellness. We’ve written this guide to the 8 fruits that have the most health benefits without adverse collateral damage from a high sugar content or tons of calories. Read through for more information and some suggestions about how you can add these high-protein fruits to your regular diet.
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Health Benefits of Protein
Protein is one of the most important macronutrients required for the human body to function. Not only does the body use protein to repair damaged muscle and grow new muscle mass, but it also uses protein to build cartilage, skin, blood, and bones. Eating more protein will give you better skin health and give you stronger, more lustrous hair. Various bodily processes centered around your vital organs are also regulated with protein.
Eating a high-protein diet can also be a great strategy for weight loss. When the body takes in lots of protein, an appetite-suppressing hormone called peptide is released. Not only will you feel less hungry than if you eat foods lacking protein, but your hunger will also be satiated for a longer period.
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5 High-Protein Fruits You May Want to Avoid
Many people looking to round out their high-protein diet with delicious fruits make the mistake of over-relying on fruits with high sugar or fat content or ones that are loaded with calories. This can negate the benefit of the protein the fruits do have and ruin your other health and fitness goals. Here are a few fruits to avoid or to eat very sparingly.
It’s hard news to hear but coconuts are a very fatty fruit despite their high protein content. Vegans and other people with a non-dairy diet love coconut-derived products like milk and water and there’s no beating the unique flavor of a coconut, but they also have lots of calories.
Unlike some other entries in this avoidance list, coconut is one that we’ll say you should just try not to eat all the time. A sprinkle of shredded coconut on your oatmeal every once in a while won’t kill your weight loss plan, but a less caloric fruit with a high protein content like blackberries or dried apricot might be a better choice.
Another breakfast time favorite, bananas are a great source of potassium but they also have pretty high sugar content and they’re loaded with carbohydrates. The fiber in bananas will help regulate your digestive system but there are plenty of other foods that can give you that fiber without all the sugar and carbs.
Even though bananas are one of the easiest fruits to eat on the go and they’re delicious in protein shakes, over-reliance on them can lead to an excess of nutrients and cause your body to store carbs as fat. If you are going to eat bananas, limit it to once or twice a week mixed with greek yogurt or blended into a protein shake.
Cherries have an even higher sugar content than bananas do and they don’t offer the same potassium or fiber benefits. Plus, they aren’t very large and so they don’t fill you up noticeably for any amount of time. Like some other fruits, the juice made from cherries often has even more sugar added which is why it’s best not to drink it at all. A few cherries at the end of a meal might be nice, but more than a few and you’ll be looking at a significant boost in your daily sugar consumption.
Although they can make a nice light snack, prunes are chock-full of sugar. The more processed they are, the more likely it is that they’ll have added sugar from the manufacturer. In 100 grams of prunes, there are over 35 grams of sugar. If you eat them or drink prune juice too much, you run the risk of weight gain and you’ll also increase your risk for developing diseases like diabetes.
A more exotic fruit than some of the others on this list, lychees are native to southeastern China but they’re gaining popularity elsewhere in the world. They’re quite delicious but they have pretty high levels of carbs that stem from their high sugar content. They do offer decent levels of vitamin C, potassium, and copper, but you shouldn’t be consuming tons of lychee because of their sugar content.
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8 High-Protein Fruits to Include in Your Diet
Whether you’re a gym rat trying to gain muscle mass or trying to meet your weight loss goals, adding these high-protein fruits is a great way to give your body the protein it needs without overloading on sugars and carbs. Blem them up into a protein shake for a tasty meal that packs a protein punch.
Apricots are one of the best fruits for diabetics because of their low sugar content. They also have a fair amount of protein in them, about 9 grams per 100. Apricots have a much lower sugar content than most other dried fruit provided the manufacturer hasn’t added a ton. You can use apricots to add flavor to your yogurt or oatmeal and they also make a convenient snack after a workout or at the office. Apricots also have lots of beta carotene in them, which your body converts into vitamin A and uses for skin health.
If you aren’t eating dried apricots, some recipes put the whole fruit to good use. Some are even savory. Chicken soup with some apricot added is a nutritious and protein-packed meal that’s ideal for wintertime bulking. In the summertime, drop some sliced apricot on the grill for a smokey yet refreshing dish.
The perfect ingredient for smoothies and a nice substitute for sugar-loaded mangoes, guava will shake up your palate and give you important nutrients like vitamin A, manganese, and folate. You can use guava to make a nice jam or you can make a very colorful fruit salad with them. If you’re looking for a fruit with tons of fiber and less sugar, guava is the one for you.
If you’re inclined toward the culinary arts, try using guava in a chutney blend to spice up your recipes. People who need a snack without all that work can simply eat the guava raw.
It’s likely most readers haven’t had the opportunity to try jackfruit yet. If that’s the case for you, try to find some at your local international or farmer’s market. Jackfruit has a whopping three grams of protein content per cup and tends to come in a very large size, meaning you can buy it in bulk and have a refreshing snack on hand whenever you need it. Jackfruit also has potassium, vitamin C, and magnesium. There are also dietary fibers inside and some carbs that are great right after an intense workout.
Melon is great for fruit salads or to eat for breakfast. Unlike other varieties like watermelon, cantaloupes are low in sugar. Somehow, they still taste sweet despite only containing 8 grams of sugar per 100. They don’t have as much protein as some of the other fruits on this list, but they are healthy enough that you can eat lots of them without experiencing any ill effects. Try adding cantaloupe to your oatmeal or protein shakes for additional sweetness, kind of like what you get from a peach or honeydew.
A great source of healthy fats, avocados are also filling, delicious, and packed with protein. They’re very versatile. One of the best ways to enjoy avocado is to cut it into slices and eat it with high-protein foods like eggs. Mash avocado with some red onion and a bit of tomato and you more or less have some delicious high-protein guacamole once you season it with some salt and pepper. It’s a great way to get the same spreadable consistency of peanut butter without all the added sugar.
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If you aren’t carb-loading to get energy for building muscle mass, consider swapping out your morning oatmeal with a nice grapefruit instead. They’re less acidic than oranges but they still have a nice bite to them that will help you wake up. Grapefruit doesn’t take long to prepare. All you need to do is cut it in half and you can eat the pulp with a spoon.
Grapefruit can also add a nice tang to any fruit salad and it makes for an unexpected freshness if you add it into a smoothie. Anytime you would normally reach for sugar-loaded processed orange juice, try a grapefruit instead.
With 4% of your daily value of protein in every cup, blackberries are a great substitute for really sweet fruits that might have too much sugar in them. They also taste great on top of whole-grain oatmeal or blended with protein powder and milk to make a protein shake. Blackberries make an excellent topping but you can also just eat them with a spoon or eat them like popcorn.
Since they don’t have the high sugar content of cherries, you can use them as an effective replacement. Blackberries also contain important antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C, all of which are used to fix free radical damage.
Boost your immune system while you up your protein intake with kiwifruit. These small green protein-rich fruits are a great topping and smoothie ingredient. They usually taste very sweet but they don’t have nearly the sugar content of some unhealthier fruits. If you’re worried about fruit that will affect your blood sugar levels, kiwi is a smart choice. They don’t quite have the high-protein content you need to help you build lean muscle on their own, but they are sweet, refreshing, and so easy to eat that they can help fill out your high-protein diet.
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How Much Fruit Should You Eat In One Day?
It’s important to eat the right amount of fruit. Even though they all have a high protein content, these fruits should still be eaten in moderation. Other sources of important minerals like vitamin B6 have lower calories, specifically veggies. The USDA recommends 2 cups of fruit per day for adults and 2.5 cups of veggies. That’s enough to take in some serious protein without the extra cholesterol you get from eggs and red meat.
Fruit is also a great source of some other nutrients like fatty acids and amino acids. Try to eat a small serving of these high-protein fruits any time you’re feeling hungry. If you use healthy fruits like red apples, you can curb your appetite for a while which will help you achieve your weight loss goals.
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Many people are surprised to learn that fruit can be a good source of protein. For weightlifters, it’s welcome news because fruits already make the best smoothies and protein shake ingredients. They’re also the best post-workout snack. They make a nice snack at any other time of the day as well.
Even fruits with high sugar content have health benefits, but the collateral damage from the calories is going to wreck your fitness plan completely. Some of the most popular snacking fruits like grapes and cherries have tons of sugar. Cherries have up to 17 grams of sugar per cup and grapes have an astounding 27 grams. Other high-protein fruits like bananas and coconuts have really high carb and calorie counts, respectively.
Another important consideration to make when you’re shopping for high-protein fruits is how filling the fruit is. Chomping away on kiwi fruits is all good and well, but they aren’t going to fill your stomach or hold you over until dinnertime. Other high-protein fruits like apples are more filling and take longer to chew. Studies have even shown that apples lead to a marked reduction in hunger levels.
If weight loss is your goal rather than building muscle mass, some high-protein fruits are filling enough to be used as a whole or partial meal replacement. Take care to balance the high protein content with other nutrients to make sure your body doesn’t have to go without essential minerals like potassium, vitamin C, or antioxidants.
There are also some nutrients in fruit that are hard to find elsewhere. For example, red apples have a ton of the antioxidant called polyphenol, which some research indicates promotes good heart health and could prevent the likelihood of developing diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis. Balancing your diet with these nutrients can lead to many other health benefits in addition to the ones protein provides.
Although there are many fruits that contain more protein than you’d expect, they’re unlikely to be a significant enough source of protein for people who are trying to build muscle mass. For that, you need to have a high-protein diet that draws from other good sources of protein like lean meat and edible legumes such as lentils. These fruits should primarily be used to fill out the edges of a high-protein diet.
High-protein fruits can also be a good source of nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamins, and antioxidants that fix free radical damage. Many of them, such as guava and jackfruits, are likely unfamiliar to most people and will add some variety to the normal diet routine. Some others can be used to help lower blood pressure too.
It’s important not to let fruit take too large a place in your diet, though. You still need some healthy fats from other protein sources and, like it or not, you’re going to need complex carbs if you are trying to build lean muscle. Aim to eat about two cups of these high-protein fruits every day and you should get the perfect amount of extra protein and other nutrients. Eat plenty of avocados to get some much needed healthy fats into your diet as well.
Pair these fruits with a robust diet plan and you’ll be able to reap many health benefits while accomplishing your weight loss or other fitness goals.
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