I have always had a sweet tooth. I’ve envied people who say that they don’t (and I secretly think they just haven’t tried Oreos). But, over the years, I’ve tried to find other ways to satisfy those sugar cravings with healthier options. Enter, stage right – FRUIT. I’ve never worried too much about eating it. It comes from the ground! How bad can it be? I’ve had several friends who say that eating fruit is as bad as eating a chocolate bar. Why? Because of that mortal enemy of all humankind – SUGAR. So, is fruit bad for you because of its sugar content? The science is in, and it says…it’s not as bad as your misinformed friends may think. That’s right – fruit is NOT your enemy.
Disclaimer: the following information is meant only as a guide. If you have specific nutritional needs or a food allergy, please talk with a trusted medical professional, or a certified dietician or nutritionist.
How fruit affects the body
I love fruit so much – berries, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, grapes… But it often contains high amounts of fructose, AKA sugar. And we all know what sugar does. Sugar will add inches to your waistline, increase your risk of chronic disease, won’t return your phone calls, and use forks in your teflon pans! Wait…I think I mixed up a couple of those. Seriously though, it’s undeniable that fruit contains a lot of sugar. Bananas, for example, have around 14 grams. The American Heart Association recommends that women only take in 25 grams of added sugar per day. But notice the key word in that sentence – ADDED sugar. The sugar in fruit is naturally-occurring.
Furthermore, when you eat a piece of fruit, you’re not just getting fructose, but vitamins and fiber (if you eat actual fruit and not just juice) as well. The fiber in particular actually keeps your body from absorbing too much of the fructose and makes it easier for you to digest your food overall. Eating fruit may also help you feel fuller sooner, so it’s not likely that you’ll overeat it.
Everything in moderation
Now that we’ve cleared up the idea that fruit is not your enemy, it’s important to point out that there are always exceptions to these rules. First of all, no matter what you’re eating, moderation is key. There are some folks who are “fruitarians”, like the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, but most people can’t sustain that kind of eating and still be healthy. It’s important to balance out your diet with sources of protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and whole grains. Protein especially is good to consume with fruit. It can help you decrease the glycemic load on your body that fruit by itself might trigger. And don’t think this gives you a license to drink fruit juice with abandon. Those often have a LOT of added sugar and none of the fiber.
One more piece of advice – if you’re monitoring your sugar intake, you make want to be careful with grapes. Researchers say they have a lot of sugar in them considering the other nutrients that compose them. I’ll just stick with wine instead. I’m sure that’s better.
Pass me an apple!
It’s nice to know that we don’t have to be afraid to eat fruit. It has so many benefits and should be part of a healthy diet. If you have concerns or specific nutritional needs, I recommend talking with a licensed dietician or your doctor. Fruit is not your enemy and that can be an unhealthy way to think about any food, really. Except Oreos. They’re totally your enemy. Just send them to my house, and I’ll take care of them for you.