Have you ever wondered whether you should quit fruit because A) you’ve heard that sugar is ‘bad’ for your health and B) fruit has lots of sugar in it?
Public Enemy #1 sugar
Sugar is the new evil that is going to be “on trend” for a while. Popular weight loss diets have even taken to dissing fruit because of its sugar content. This has left many people wondering if fruit should be included as part of a healthy diet.
It may surprise you to hear that not all sugars are the same. There are added and refined sugars, such as those food in confectionary, biscuits and soft drinks which should be limited in a healthy diet, as they are ‘nutrient poor’ and energy rich. There are also naturally occurring sugar, such as fructose found in fruit, which you should consume as part of a healthy diet because it contains more than just sugar. Fruit has many important nutrients such as water, vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Consume whole fruits
When fruit is consumed whole with the skin intact, it is generally high in fibre ensuring a slower uptake of fructose in the body and is low in calories, making fruit a healthy snacking option. On the other hand, fruit juice is stripped of fibre and is a very concentrated source of sugar, which is high in energy and causes fluctuating blood sugar levels and subsequent hunger. Dried fruits have a similar effect on the body, which is even more reason to fill up on the fresh fruit!
High fibre fruit
Some fruits have more health benefits than others. For example, the fibre content in fruit varies. It’s generally recommended that individuals aim to consume fruits that are high in fibre in order to feel full and hence reduce the risk of overeating and maintain a healthy weight. Even better, eating at least 2 serves of fruit a day helps meet the recommended dietary intake of 30 grams per day.
Top five fibre rich fruits
Here are top 5 ways to incorporate high fibre fruit as part of a healthy diet:
- Raspberry smoothie (6.5 grams of fibre per 100g)
- Yoghurt of choice topped with passionfruit (10.4 grams of fibre per 100g)
- Afternoon snack reach for the fruit bowl for a pear (3.1g of fibre per 100g)
- Eggs and avocado on toast (6.7g of fibre per 100g)
- Whole grain oatmeal topped with banana (2.6g of fibre per 100g)
Why you should eat at least two serves of fruit per day
Fruit has numerous health benefits with studies showing that increased fruit intake has a role in weight maintenance and loss, in addition to providing protection against chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke and some cancers.
Eating 2 servings of fruit per day is recommended for those that are sedentary, whilst the upper limit of 4 servings is for those that are regularly active. An unlimited intake of fruit can lead to an excess kilojoule intake and seeing as 63.4% of Australians are overweight or obese, unnecessary kilojoules are not needed.
What’s the best fruit to eat?
In order to get the most health benefits, eat an array of colourful fruits every day, as each fruit has its own set of phytochemicals – which are naturally occurring and have health promoting properties, as well as antioxidants –which protect human cells from harmful effects of free radicals.
Red fruits like tomatoes and watermelon contain an antioxidant called lycopene, which reduces the risk of many cancers and is good for heart health. Whereas orange coloured fruit are packed with plenty of beta carotene, which is good immune function and vision.
People looking to lose weight might think that fruit could be holding them back from losing those last few kilo’s however, fruit is a good option for weight loss as it is low in fat and sodium. And it generally a low kilojoule alternative to packaged foods such as muesli bars, which are energy rich.
For people with diabetes, fruit is encouraged as most types of fresh fruit have a low glycemic index due to the fibre and fructose content, meaning they won’t cause a rapid rise of blood glucose levels. There are fruits such as watermelon, lychee and dates that are high GI. Individuals with diabetes should be aware that enjoying small amounts of these two type of fruit is still ok, but monitor your sugar levels if you eat a large amount.
What is 1 serving of fruit?
It may be helpful to know that a standard serve of fruit is 150g (350KJ) or equivalent to:
- 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear
- 2 small apricots, kiwi fruits, or plums
- 1 cup of diced or canned fruit (with no added sugar).
Don’t quit fruit
Fruit is a gift from nature and intended to be consumed in such way, as natural and fresh as possible. Fruit contains plenty of good nutrients making it a healthy option for when you are hungry or to satisfy your sweet tooth. Remember, when possible eat seasonally for better value, quality and variety and for those concerned with indulging in an overload of sugar, limiting foods and drinks with added sugar is ideal.
Author Camille Brennan
I have recently graduated from a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science from UTS and have aspirations of combining my passion for sport and nutrition into a fulfilling career, helping individuals to improve their health and wellbeing. In my spare time you’ll find me at the beach or out and about exploring the outdoors.