‘Fruit is FULL of sugar- you should decrease your intake!’
This is something I hear all too often and each time I think it has gone away it pops back up again. Up it came in clinic this week again, it’s a myth I will keep on busting! So here is a reminder for you.
There are lots of healthy foods we eat that contain sugar: fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts are all examples of foods containing sugars. They are also foods that we definitely do not want to be eating less of or avoiding, if anything we need to eat MORE of these foods. So in a way, yes, I’m telling you to eat more sugar. Why? (NB: Unless you have a reason/have been advised to not be eating too much fruit this could be the case if you have diabetes).
Fruit contains NATURAL SUGARS: these are sugars that are contained within the cell wals of the foods. So the sugar is naturally occurring and was always there. The sugar here is held within a fibrous matrix, it isn’t as easy to get to as the sugar in a sweet or biscuit. Due to fruits fibre content, the sugars are digested and released slowly into the bloodstream preventing the blood sugar spike from being as high as some other sweeter foods. Top Tip: Eat your fruit with some protein or a high fibre food to slow down the impact on your blood sugars even further. Try apple and nuts or grapes with cheese and crackers.
Eating whole fruits has been recommended in the healthy eating guidelines for a very long time. Fruit is a really valuable, integral part of a healthy diet. We know that fruit contains so so many valuable nutrients including fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (including those all important antioxidants that help the body fight off attacks and illness). In order to have a well-balanced diet you are going to need to eat those fruit and veggies. Most people know the aim is a MINIMUM of 5 portions a day but in the UK the average is 4 a day (NDNS data, 2010).
What about fruit juice? Whilst fruit juice counts as a portion of your fruit and veggies for the day, be aware that fruit juice counts as free sugars. This doesn’t mean not to drink it but to be portion conscious, stick to a small glass. The juicing process essentially frees the sugars from the cell wall and releases them. This means there is negligible fibre, so the blood sugars will spike up quicker. Again if you have your fruit juice with a meal containing fibre and protein this will help. The recommended intake of fruit juice is only 150ml per day, do check if you buy a bottle regularly for your lunch or when out and about as a lot of single serving bottles of fruit juice are over 150ml.
Take home message – Fruit contains sugar but this is natural sugar. Please do not stop eating your fruit in fact I would encourage you to more of it, try having it with other foods to help balance your blood sugars.