Experts agree that we are eating too much sugar, which is contributing to obesity and other health problems. But in the panic to avoid sugar, many of us are avoiding fruits. Just over half of Australians (54%) eat enough to meet the recommended serves, according to the Australian Health Survey released last year.
I was one of those people that thought I should cut out ALL fruit to lose weight, not realising how much fibre and superfood vitamins I was also missing out on.
From a nutrition standpoint, fruit is a great source of fibre, potassium, vitamin C and folate – nutrients that help guard against disease, which many of us don’t get enough of. A diet rich in fruit has been linked to lower rates of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cataract and type 2 diabetes.
But fruit has been getting a bad wrap lately because fruit contains the “F” word – Fructose.
Fructose is a simple carbohydrate that, together with glucose, makes up sucrose (table sugar). It’s found in many plant sources like honey, fruits, flowers, and root vegetables, and is one of the three basic forms of sugar that our body can use as fuel (the other two are glucose and galactose)
Multiple studies have shown that when eating whole fruit, it is almost impossible to consume enough fructose to cause weight gain. These studies also show that fruit has significant chewing resistance. Since most fruits take a while to eat and digest, the fructose hits the liver slowly and helps us feel satisfied. The result is that if you eat fruit, chances are that you will feel so full that you will automatically eat less of other foods – contributing to weight loss.
If you are managing blood sugar levels for medical conditions such as pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes and heart disease it is advisable to look for fruits that have a low glycemic index (low GI)
While most fruits have a low-glycemic value, the fruits to be wary of with a high glycemic index are bananas, watermelon, peaches, dates, raisins and cantaloupe. These fruits release their sugar quickly and have higher concentrations of fructose that can affect your insulin response and trigger fat storage resulting in weight gain.
Fruits like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and Granny Smith apples have less fructose content so tend to be the better options when trying to lose weight. That’s not to say you can’t have a banana to give you some extra energy before working out or add a few dates or raisins to your breakfast muesli – just keep them in moderation and they won’t affect your weight.
Eating large amounts of fructose every day is a bad idea – we all agree. But reaching high levels of fructose through fruit alone would require deliberate overfeeding beyond the recommended serves of 2 pieces of fruit a day.
If you are trying to lose weight, you can’t eat all the fruit you want, but research has shown that eating a couple of fruit servings per day has never slowed weight-loss progress.
So go on – enjoy fruit again like I am – I haven’t put on weight because of it and my body is now getting the missing Superfood nutrients it needs
Hope this helps