I am once again referring back to my previous blog post for this week’s topic. If you read it you’ll remember my warning against consuming sugar. I exempted fruits from my warning despite the fact that they tend to be higher in sugar content. Now I’d like to explain why.
First - ‘fruit’ is a very broad category. Most dictionaries define fruit along the lines of ‘the edible ripened ovaries of a seed bearing plant’. Besides sounding somewhat unappetizing that broad definition would include things like corn, avocados, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and squashes, which most people normally think of as vegetables. Nuts also can be included under that definition.
Now let’s move past the dictionary definition. I want to discuss what we commonly refer to as fruit. That is the sweet, fleshy produce frequently eaten with breakfast or as a dessert. Oranges, Apples, Berries, Melons, Grapes and so on... Logically the thing that makes them sweet is that they are higher in sugar than other produce items. A medium sized apple (~182g) for example can have 19 grams of sugar(1). Compare that to an equal weight of romaine lettuce which has just under 4 grams of sugar(2). That’s almost five times the sugar content!!! But you really should not be concerned by that because fruits have a lot more to them than an elevated sugar content.
Fruits are packed with many other nutrients that balance the sugar. Most fruits are naturally high in fiber and water content and individual fruits have unique profiles of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and phytochemicals. When consumed whole, the sugars in fruits are absorbed at a natural and healthy rate into our bodies. We start to get into trouble as we process ‘remove’ the accompanying nutrients. Even the simple process of juicing removes most of the fiber and many of the minerals from a fruit which can create a potential challenge in how your body metabolizes it.
Make sure to add a wide variety of whole fruits to your overall diet to get a full complement of the minerals, vitamins, enzymes and phytochemicals that each provides.
[NOTE: There are many conditions that can be affected by sugar intake (i.e. diabetes, candidiasis, hypoglycemia, gout, etc). Even the sugars contained in fruits can affect these conditions so if you been diagnosed with any such condition follow the dietary advice of your doctor. Or if you suspect that you may be sensitive to sugar consult with one.]
I’ll discuss the advantage of organic vs conventionally raised produce in a future blog post so visit the FU Blog on a regular basis.
(1) USDA (2012, November). Household USDA Foods Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/HHFS_APPLES_FRESH_Nov2012.pdf
(2) USDA (2015, October 16). USDA SNAP-ED Connection. Retrieved from https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-through-seasons/seasonal-produce/lettuce
Kevin holds a Nutrition Educator Certification from Bauman College