The most common question that I am asked concerns the natural sugar content of fruit.
‘Its fruit! It’s got healthy natural sugar! Why is that not good for me?’
We are all aware that to eat fruit is considered a healthy option, as it comprises of many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Indeed the government advocates eating between 5 and 10 pieces of fruit and veg a day.
Of course, on the face of it this seems like good advice and it sort of is! BUT and this is a big BUT, if you eat masses of fruit and little to no veg, you may find that you are inadvertently consuming large quantities of sugar, which if you are trying hard to lose weight and on what you thought to be a healthy diet, may be very confusing and frustrating.
In my opinion it would be more helpful to add; that out of that 5 – 10 quota, ideally only 1 in 5 of the items should be fruit and the rest comprised of vegetables. (And most certainly not include a fruit juice as 1 of the ‘5 – 10 a day’ as this could be a hidden source of a large amount of sugar.
For example: would you sit down and eat 10 oranges? Unlikely! But unknowingly, you could be doing the equivalent by drinking a large glass of juiced oranges, there will be more than one orange in there to get that amount!)
The downside of eating too much fruit (apart from its purgative effects) is its natural sugar content known as fructose.
The liver cannot deal with fructose, thus causing the body to store it in the fat cells as fat where it will sit, until such time it is required to be used as energy. So eating a large amount of high fructose containing fruits and fruit juices is not really desirable.
The way I equate this is to liken it to when our ‘paleo’ ancestors ‘lived off the land’ with the occasional kill. The fruit produce of the trees and hedgerows was seasonal and when available harvested and eaten, as the fructose was essential in the building up of fat in their bodies to keep warm and for energy storage over the winter. It seems that as far as the body was concerned, fructose was welcomed as it was quite a rarity and as such the body didn’t seem to come with any measure of what too much fructose was.
Delicious and wonderful as it may be and something we can now enjoy, the availability of fruit from all over the world, all year round is a phenomenon that is somewhat alien to our bodies I think!
On this basis, I think it wise to consume no more than 2 pieces of fruit a day. We do not require the extra fructose in the same way as our ancestors.
This is a guide to those fruits that rank lowest and highest in fructose content:
Raspberries, strawberries, lemons, limes, kiwis, avocados, blueberries, cranberries, gooseberries, passion fruit, rhubarb and coconut.
Grapes, figs, mango, cherries, bananas, apples, guava, pineapple (tropical fruit) All dried fruit.
Oranges, plums, apricots, pears, all melons.
Oh and an extra thought………
You may well see Fructose added as a ‘natural’ sweetener to various products insinuating that it is a healthy alternative to other sugars. Bearing in mind all of the above, I am not so sure…….