Somewhere along the way with high protein diets and low sugar lifestyles, fruit has become something we have grown to be afraid of. I’ve had people tell me how they won’t touch a banana anymore because it has too much sugar. But fruit is not an enemy and should be a part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Fruits contain great amounts of fiber, vitamins that are hard to get in a regular diet (Vitamin C, folate, and potassium), plant compounds and antioxidants. Not to mention they are a convenient, satisfying food that is low calorie. A daily serving of fruit is 2- 2 ½ cups.
Eating fruit regularly can help with conditions like cholesterol, high blood pressure, digestive/ gut issues, help prevent certain cancers and heart disease. And there is even research on fruit preventing obesity because overall it causes people to eat less over time due to its “high satiety” factors. Think about when you have that banana for a snack. It keeps you full for a longer period.
Fruit is a real, whole food that contains fructose (naturally occurring sugar). Some fruits have more fructose than others. Lower fructose fruits: bananas, blueberries, and strawberries. Higher fructose fruits: watermelon, apples, and grapes. For one to get harmful amount of fructose they’d have to eat a lot. Fruit is a “self-limiting” food because it is hard to eat too much. How many apples could you sit down and eat? I know my jaw gets tired after one!
Fruits are loaded with fiber and water and “chewing resistance”. That means it takes a while to eat them in turn, longer to digest. The sugar in fruit won’t hit your system as fast, unlike drinking sugary drinks (and alcohol) that hit your system, particularly your liver, quickly causing issues over time. In small, slow amounts, the body can process it easily and not feel that sugar spike.
When it comes to fruit, be cautious with juices and dried fruit. Fruit juice is high in sugar and low in fiber. Dried fruits are high in fiber but usually also high sugar. Watch the portion sizes of both juices and dried fruit, a little is ok.
Lastly, smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to get your daily servings of fruit (and vegetables). They are convenient and a great option. To keep a smoothie on the healthier-low sugar side, watch a few things: read all the labels for frozen fruit, there could be added sugar. Use small amounts (or none) of fruit juice or mix 50/50 with water. If using yogurt, make sure it is no/low sugar. Smoothies made at home are the best choice because you can watch exactly what goes into them. Just because there is a “Smoothie” on the menu does not mean it is a healthy option. One commercially prepared smoothie on a menu of a popular lunch place has 50g of sugar!! Read nutritional labels when it comes to fruit.
Next time you are at the grocery, be sure to include a few fruits in your shopping. You’ll be happy to have them back in your life.
Sharma SP, Chung HJ, Kim HJ, Hong ST. Paradoxical Effects of Fruit on Obesity. Nutrients. 2016;8(10):633. Published 2016 Oct 14. doi:10.3390/nu8100633