National Consumer Poll: Many Low-Carb Dieters Shun Fruit, Putting Them at Risk for Poor Nutrition

Leading Nutrition Researcher Says Nutrient Dense Fruits Like Kiwifruit Easily

Fit in Healthy Reduced-Carb Dieting Plan

Jun 08, 2004, 01:00 ET from ACNielsen

    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
     -- Low-carb diets were markedly more common among the Hispanic population,
        with about 20 percent participating.