There is a great debate going on out there and it has nothing to do with politics!
I’m talking about fruit. Yes fruit: those delicious, juicy, naturally sweet gifts from mother earth. Who doesn’t like fruit? Most people will choose a fruit over a vegetable, adults and children alike. And why not?! Fruit in its colourful, mouth-watering glory is perfectly balanced – vitamins, minerals, fibre, and a touch of sweetness; what more could you ask for?
What I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about is the sugar content in fruit. It seems that people are a little concerned with (or maybe a little confused about) sugar and fruit.
Fruit contains natural occurring sugars (fructose) vs. processed foods which contain added sugars (white sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup). Let’s face it, we are all privy to the knowledge know that limiting our processed foods intake will vastly improve our health, but what about fruit? The significant difference is how the sugar metabolizes in our bodies.
Without getting too exuberant or technical; how much sugar is already in our bodies will dictate how the sugar is used. The bottom line is if you are already eating a high sugar diet then the more sugar you add will turn to fat or glycogen (storage form of glucose). Added sugars in our processed foods leave you wanting more which is why people become “addicted” to sugar. Fruit on the other hand leaves you full and satisfied due to our good ole’ friend fibre. Let’s not forget that fruit is alkaline and the more alkaline your body is the chance of falling ill or your body being plagued by disease is drastically reduced.
Unfortunately, life isn’t like it was when our grandparents went to market. They did not worry about sugar as we do. Sugar was something kept in the pantry to fold into delectable butter tarts and homemade pies. Now a days if you are not purchasing your foods in the fruit or vegetable isles chances are high that you are consuming an abundant amount of refined sugar. Pick up a box, a can or a bottle in one of those middle isles of your favorite grocery market and you will find sugar is now added to foods that should not contain sugar and is completely unnecessary. For example a can of beans in tomato sauce states on the back of the can that a half a cup serving will provide your body with 9 grams of sugar! What?? Why?? Our grandmothers I am confident would be waving their heads in wonder about that one.
Another interesting one is bread. Store bought bread contains an average of three grams of sugar per slice. So, if you’re popping two of those babies in the toaster, before you’ve even brushed your teeth you and possibly your kids have ingested six grams of sugar; you’re not even out the door yet!
In a Maclean’s article called “Death by Sugar” from May 6, 2014, they quoted the following statistic:
“1985 to 2011 the obesity rate among Canadian adults more than tripled…”
The reason? Sugar.
Can you imagine if we keep trotting down that path as a society? Well… that is a discussion for another day.
If you have ever had the pleasure of being in the presence of those wonderful, darling, sweet angels I call teenagers (your younger self included!), you’ve surely noticed that their drink of choice is…? Yep, you guessed it, soft drinks. There isn’t a more sugar laden food item than pop. A can of Coca Cola in all of its high fructose corn syrup glory, contains a whopping nine and a half teaspoons of sugar. If you take a look at what that looks like visually, you will be shocked to say the least.
Fruit is not the enemy or their naturally occurring sugars. What we should be asking ourselves is how much processed foods and refined sugar are we eating. When you can answer that question honestly then the debate about fruit and sugar content wanes quite a bit. As I mentioned above, it is the amount of sugar already in our bodies that will affect how we metabolize more sugar. Therefore, it is safe to say: if you limit your processed food intake to decrease the amount of sugar within your body then worrying about if it’s okay to have a second banana during the day seems well, just ridiculous.
Below I’ve listed just a few examples of high sugar content fruits and low sugar content fruits. If you are curious there are lots of handy charts you can print off for yourself online.
High Sugar Content: grapes, bananas, mangos, sweet cherries, apples, figs, pineapples, pears, nectarines, tangerines.
Low Sugar Content: Strawberries, blackberries, avocado, grapefruit, plumes, cranberries, raspberries, kiwi.
Fruit is the nectar from the Gods. One of the most naturally perfect foods on earth. At the end of the day maybe we should be more worried about how many soda pops we are consuming daily or how many bowls of refined sugar cereals we are serving our kids rather than how many grams of naturally occurring sugars are in an apple.
Food for thought don’t you think?
PS... don't forget to always choose from among what's in season, to get the most nutritional content out of your produce!