SEATTLE, June 8 /PRNewswire/ -- In a national telephone survey last week, many low-carb dieters told ACNielsen pollsters they are shunning fruit in their attempt to lose weight, even though nutritionists say fruit plays an important role in a healthy diet. Fruit consumption is encouraged during the maintenance phase of popular low-carb diets, but that message may not be getting through. The pollsters spoke with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults, 12 percent of which said they were following a low-carb diet. Among those on low-carb diets, 30 percent said they had reduced their fruit consumption and 14 percent had stopped eating it altogether. That means that 44 percent of low-carb dieters -- roughly 11 million Americans -- may have dropped from their diets some essential nutrients commonly found in fruit. Fortunately, there are easy strategies for enjoying fruits on a low-carb diet. The carb count of different fruits varies widely, so consumers can pick and choose to stay under their daily target. Another key strategy is selecting fruits that are among the highest in nutrient density, making the carbs you keep in your diet count for great nutrition. For example, kiwifruit contains only a moderate amount of carbs, yet it is the highest rated popular fruit for nutrient density, meaning it packs the biggest nutrition punch. "If your diet is low in carbohydrates, it makes sense to choose fruits and vegetables that are especially rich in essential nutrients," said Professor Paul Lachance, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Rutgers University. "Otherwise a reduced-carb diet can easily rob you of the well reported health benefits of eating fruits." As an aid to consumers, Lachance calculated the nutrient density of 33 fruits. He assessed their ability to supply recommended amounts of nine important nutrients and phytochemicals considered essential to good health by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Kiwifruit took first place among popular fruits, enhancing its appeal for low-carb dieters who love its sweet-tangy taste. Runners up in the Rutgers study were papaya, mangos and oranges. Among low-sodium, high-potassium fruits, kiwifruit, papaya and apricots out-ranked bananas and oranges. Additional Insights from the ACNielsen Study -- 14 percent of women and 11 percent of men were on a low-carb diet. -- Participation in a low-carb diet increased with age, income and education. -- Low-carb diets were markedly more common among the Hispanic population, with about 20 percent participating.