Is Fruit Bad For Me?

1 Mar

Hello and Happy National Nutrition Month!

People ask this question A LOT. Countless carb-phobic diet books and so-called “experts” have villainized the poor fruit group, convincing people that fruit is the sugar-laden diet enemy. New research pointing a blaming finger at fructose has also created confusion and caused many to shy away from trusty apples and bananas. You may have read the New York Times article “Is Sugar Toxic?”. This article and the research behind it warns of the health hazards of sugar, particularly a carbohydrate called fructose. Let’s clear up the confusion and tear this myth down once and for all!

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As much as I hate the term “natural sugar”, I think it’s fitting in the case of fruit. Fruit does have naturally occurring sugar, primarily fructose (often nicknamed “fruit sugar”). When “fruit sugar” is eaten in its whole food form along with all of the glorious health benefits of fruit, it is perfectly healthy! Fruits are chockfull of vitamins and antioxidants that nourish your body, prevent disease, preserve your youth, and make your hair, skin, and eyes shine. They are also packed with fiber which keeps you satisfied and slows the absorption of those natural sugars.

We run into trouble with fructose when we eat this “natural sugar” in very unnatural ways. Because fructose is the sweetest of the simple carbohydrates (smarty pants Mother Nature wants to increase the allure of nutrient-packed fruits!), it has been kidnapped by the food industry and artificially added to countless processed foods. You’ll find it in soda, fat-free “diet” foods that are pumped full of sugar to make up for the lackluster fat-free flavor, packaged foods like cookies, pop-tarts, crackers, cereal, and pastries. It’s even in unsuspecting places like ketchup, sauces, salty snacks, bread, yogurt, and peanut butter. Most of these foods are empty calories. Unlike fruit, the sugars don’t come naturally wrapped up in a healthful bundle of nutrients. Because added sugar is in so many food products and in places it doesn’t need to be (ahem, peanut butter), we end up overdosing on it. THESE are the foods that warrant sugar stress, NOT whole fruits!

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You are not going to overdose on sugars by eating a few pieces of fruit each day, so eat up! The more variety of color you eat,  the more variety of nutrients you’ll get. The issue with fruit is rarely too much and almost always not enough. Aim for 2-4 servings of fruit every day!

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Thanks for reading 🙂

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