CLEAR THE CONFUSION ON FRUIT
Let’s clear the confusion on fruit. Is there too much sugar? How much do I eat? Is organic better? Do I stop eating bananas?
Well, the answer is…it depends.
-What is your current health?
-Do you have a medical condition, allergies, intolerances…?
-What are your goals? What is your general health like? Are you trying to lose weight?
-Are you following a food philosophy? Keto, paleo…?
For practical purposes, let’s just say you have no food restrictions and want to lose a little bit of fat while staying generally healthy.
Then fruit is good. (Yay!) Fruit is a healthy and safe nutrient dense food full of fiber, water and antioxidants, which may reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer and may even help you lose weight. This is nature’s fast food!
It’s the sugar in fruit that we are all worried about. However, the fructose sugar in fruit is different than table sugar. It hits the liver slowly and is easier to metabolize.
Fruit also has chewing resistance. This means it takes longer to chew giving time for satiety signals to hit your brain to tell you you’re full. This is really practical when you’re trying to eat smaller portions to lose weight.
That being said, fruit is still high in sugar and may raise our insulin levels compared to other whole foods. Depending on your goals, having a couple servings of whole fruit per day should be beneficial. We get more bang for our buck with low sugar fruit like berries and lemons. Higher sugar fruits like mangoes and bananas are sweeter and ideal to use to sweeten foods like smoothies or plain yogurt, rather than a snack. You don’t need a lot to go a long way.
WHOLE FRESH FRUIT
Whole fresh fruit is best eaten seasonally and locally. Strawberries in summer and apples in winter retain more nutrients, have more flavor, are cheaper, supports local farmers and lessens the need to buy organic. Seasonal produce needs less human intervention like transportation, pesticides and GMOs. End of story.
Frozen fruit is frozen at its peak ripeness and has just as many nutrients if not more than fresh fruit. Usually, there are no added sugars or preservatives, they’re already washed, cut and ready to use saving us time, they last longer and are generally cheaper than fresh fruit.
Fresh fruit is often picked before it’s ripe to allow ripening during transport. This doesn’t allow the fruit to develop the full range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants on the tree, which makes frozen fruit a winner. Fruit destined for freezing can stay on the tree longer.
Smoothies made with a little frozen fruit are creamier and colder. Homemade “nice cream” is easy when you blend a bag of frozen mixed berries with one egg white in a high speed blender.
What I’m totally into these days are these little frozen Fruit Bites that are a burst of fruit puree with no additives or preservatives. It’s even lower in sugar than a whole piece of fruit. I found out they snuck in algae (yep! That’s code word for seaweed) to create the shell coating, so I can get even more antioxidants. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. 🙂 My favorite is the mango bites and you can try them too with 25% off using discount code “HACKMYBITES” at checkout or click here.
Photo credit: www.citysuper.com.hk
There’s no reason to buy canned fruit…unless you’re stockpiling your basement for World War 3 or a hurricane. There is almost always added syrup and sugar in canned fruit, not to mention the BPA lining in the can, which is a hormone disruptor. Frozen is way better.
Dried fruit is adult candy. Most dried fruit is 50% sugar and if you’re trying to lose weight or control your blood sugar levels, then you’ve got to be mindful how much you eat. Dried apricots and dates are energy dense bursts of nutrients that may lower oxidative damage in the body, however, the water and chewing resistance is removed so you also lose that satiety element and can easily overdose.
When you dry fruit you’re left with a high dose of sugar that may work well on hikes, a sports competition, traveling, and when you need your fruit to be preserved, dry, convenient and easy to eat without a mess.
If you eat too much dried fruit…usually more than 2 dates, 3 apricots or a couple of prunes, then you risk weight gain. Look, a quarter of a cup of dried apricots has 17 grams of sugar. A half cup of apricots has 7g of sugar. I’d rather eat the whole fruit and have more satiety so I stop myself from overeating.
I use dried fruit to sweeten homemade granola, chia seed puddings or melted 90% dark chocolate. It’s there to add a touch of sweetness and fiber in place of sugar and honey.
Freeze dried fruit is the most sugar dense of all. All the water and fiber have been removed leaving a sugar dense shell. They are still nutrient and antioxidant dense and better than eating a Kit Kat, but like dried fruit, you can easily overeat them and sabotage your fat loss goals.
Be careful of dried fruit and freeze-dried fruit that contain sugar crystals, preservatives, sulfites and toxins. Read labels! There should just be 100% fruit. That’s it.
Make your own dried fruit roll ups and skip the added sugar, palm oil and preservatives that are often found in store bought ones.
FREEZE DRIED VS DRIED FRUIT
Which has more sugar? Dried or freeze dried? Freeze dried looks lighter and healthier, but there is even more sugar in them compared to fresh, frozen and dried fruit all together.
Fresh strawberries are 5% sugar and freeze dried strawberries are 71% sugar! Go for the whole fruit.
I eat freeze dried fruit when I can’t find anything else, say at the airport avoiding the temptation to buy a chocolate Toblerone. I like best to sprinkle a tablespoon of crumbled freeze dried strawberries on a melted bar of 90% dark chocolate or on top of plain yogurt for a splash of sweetness and color. A little goes a long way!
It’s time to grow up and cut out the fruit juice. A glass of orange juice is a ticking time bomb to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and insulin resistance. There is very little difference in grams of sugar between a 12 ounce soda, which has 35 grams of sugar and a 12 ounce glass of orange juice which has 30 grams of sugar.
It takes 4 oranges to make a glass of orange juice and 3 apples for a small cup of apple juice. The fiber is removed, so there is nothing left to blunt the insulin spike sending the sugar straight to the blood stream and then to the liver to be stored as fat, unless you get burning quickly.
Let go of the orange juice and eat the whole orange.
We have now cleared the confusion on fruit. Remember:
- Fresh, seasonal, local and frozen are the best choices.
- One to two portions of fruit per day preferably in the form of berries.
- Dried fruit and freeze dried fruit are fine in limited amounts and used as sweeteners, not a snack.
- Remove canned fruit and fruit juice from your life.
Make things simple and think “What am I NOT eating when I eat fruit and is this a better choice?”
Obviously, if you feel bad eating any kind of fruit, then stop. I don’t care how healthy it is. Your body knows better than any article, video or doctor and is telling you to leave it out.
So, enjoy your fruit and share this article with a friend who needs to know.