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The scoop on low GI winter fruit

Emma Stirling
Emma Stirling APD

As we gear up for winter in the southern hemisphere, summer salads and tropical fruit feel like another world away. Granted you can still buy out-of-season fruit, if you’re happy for it to be flown from half way around the world. But by far the best approach for health and a healthy budget is to embrace the season’s best.

Reasons to season Following the seasons has many advantages including:

  • Cost – you are likely to make significant savings to your weekly grocery bill as an abundant supply helps to keep costs competitive.
  • Taste – you can’t surpass fresh picked produce for a riper or more full-flavoured taste that is hard to replicate in a hothouse or artificial growing environment.
  • Variety – mark the passing seasons with food choices and you avoid getting stuck in a rut of same old recipe repertoires and increase the variety and nutrition quality of your diet.
  • Going green – you don’t need an environmental science degree to imagine the carbon footprint involved in transporting and storing out-of-season produce around the world.

When you come to think of it, we are spoiled for choice with wonderful winter fruit including apples (GI38), pears (GI38), nashi, quince, custard apple (GI54) and persimmon. Here are three fruits I look forward to seeing in my produce store.

Oranges, tangelos, limes, mandarins and grapefruit (GI25) all are ripe and ready in the colder months. One orange (GI42) is packed with vitamin C and is also a good source of folate and potassium.
Kiwifruit (GI53) are one of the most nutrient-dense fruits. Look out for Gold varieties that have twice the vitamin C content of an orange and the same potassium content as a banana. Packed with the powerful antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, it seems kiwifruit has a potential role in boosting immunity and protecting against macular degeneration.
Rhubarb Rollover pies, crumbles and custard companions. The best way to enjoy rhubarb in the colder months is as a topping for steaming breakfast oats or porridge. Rhubarb has a low carbohydrate content (which means we can’t measure its GI), so you only need to keep a check on added sugar when cooking this fruit. A pinch of ground ginger can enhance the flavour of rhubarb and help cut down tartness.

Kiwi fruit

And if you just have to have mangoes in the middle of winter for your signature dessert, bypass those with frequent flyer points and look to alternatives in canned or frozen. As a rule they do not contain added preservatives and compare favourably in nutrients with fresh produce. Most produce is picked at its prime, immediately snap frozen or canned and still retains good levels of nutrients.

Emma Stirling is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and health writer with over ten years experience writing for major publications. She is editor of The Scoop on Nutrition – a blog by expert dietitians. Check it out for hot news bites and a healthy serve of what’s in flavour.