Many of us think about fruit as part of our ‘5 a day’. It’s healthy, great whizzed up for juicing or smoothies, and the more the better… or is it?
Fruit is certainly something we should all be eating and contains vital nutrients and antioxidants that form part of a healthy and balanced diet, but on the flip side, fruit contains sugar, and often a significant amount.
Although fruit sugars are natural and often in the form of fructose, your body will still process them in a similar way to spoonfuls of refined sugar.
How much sugar is in fruit?
The table below gives examples of some common fruits along with teaspoons of sugar in each. As you can see – amounts do vary but the amount of sugar in fruit is significant enough to be mindful of.
|Honeydew melon||1/8th of fruit||2.5|
What about fruit juices and smoothies?
Sugar from fruit juice is concentrated and enters your bloodstream much quicker than the sugar in whole fruits – this is because your digestive system finds it much easier to break down a liquid than a whole fruit.
It also takes longer to chew and swallow whole fruits, and with fibre remaining fully intact in their skins, the speed at which sugars are digested is slowed down.
The result of drinking a small glass of juice on its own can often be a ‘sugar rush’ – just as you would experience from other soft drinks, such as cola or lemonade.
Are dried fruits any better?
Drying fruit is essentially removing the water. This results in an increased sugar density as water helps to slow down sugar absorption.
A handful of dried banana chips could be the equivalent of two or three whole bananas!
Where does the sugar go?
Sugar, even that from fruit, usually ends up being stored as excess fat as your body cannot use this sudden sugar excess.
Consistently consuming an excess of sugar can decay teeth, increase the risk of obesity, becoming insulin resistant, and developing type-2 diabetes.
My advice would be to enjoy whole fruits and juices as part of a healthy diet as their vitamins and minerals are vital to your everyday health.
You can do this by eating a portion of fruit at the same time as another food that provides good amounts of protein and fat in order to reduce the speed of sugar uptake.
Examples would be: an apple with a handful of nuts; or a banana with a yoghurt that is low in sugar; and you can reduce the sugar hit from fruit juice by diluting a smaller amount in water.
Look to eat a couple of servings of fruit a day – preferably whole fruit – with a minimum of three or four servings of vegetables.