Is fruit bad for me because it contains sugar?

By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach

Fruit is healthy for most people, and although excessive sugar intake can be harmful, this law does not apply to fruits. Fresh fruit is high in nutrients and satisfyingly filling. It's important to distinguish between natural sugar and added sugar. There's plenty of research exposing the detrimental health effects of eating too much added sugar, but less so with natural sugars found in fruit, milk, and grains. Overall, fruit intake is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

How much fruit should we eat a day?
The 5: 2 principle is a great guide in how much to eat daily: Five serves of veg and 2 fruit.
A medium-sized apple, banana, orange, or pear, 2 small apricots, plums, or kiwi, or 1 cup grapes, rockmelon, papaya. or berries are considered a serve.
On average these are all roughly 150 g.

For those on a low-carb diet, berries are naturally lower in carbs and natural sugar than most fruits.

What about fruits with a high GI?

We hear a lot about the glycaemic index, the measure of how quickly carbohydrates convert to glucose in the bloodstream. A more accurate measure to consider, especially with fresh food, is the glycaemic load, which factors the amount of carbohydrate per serving of food and to what degree it will raise a person's blood glucose level after eating it. Watermelon and grapes have a high GI but because they are fairly low in carbohydrates, their glycaemic load is low.

Whole fruit is more naturally satisfying than highly processed foods with added sugar which tend to be easy-to-digest and very easy to overeat. A whole apple, for example, has around 13g of natural sugar and it takes a reasonable amount of time to eat. You'd have to eat 3 apples to match the amount of sugar in a can of coca-cola, and unless you are a horse that's hard to do. It's very easy to knock back a can of cola.

When you eat whole fruit, not only do you get a satisfying sweet snack, but you also get all the essential nutrients like fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants, which research shows help to reduce inflammation, improve gut health, strengthen immune function and combat premature aging.


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