In the manic rush to avoid sugar “at all costs”, one of the biggest casualties seems to be fruit. Some parents are even stopping their children from eating bananas and primary schools are writing letters encouraging the removal of fresh fruit from lunch boxes. A recent survey by a raw fruit bar producer found that one in ten parents think all fruit is unhealthy.
This has all been an over-reaction to the current anti-sugar sentiment. Sure, fruit contains sugar, with some varieties, like grapes, coming high on the list of actual sugar content. However, fruit also contains much needed fibre, vitamins and minerals, something which cakes and biscuits do not. It’s particularly important for children to eat lots of raw fruit.
The key thing, like anything you eat, is to do it in moderation. If you snack on grapes all day long rather than biscuits, it’s probably not going to be much of an action plan if you’re trying to lose weight. Have fruit with your breakfast cereal, a banana as a snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon and a piece of fruit after you evening meal, and you won’t go far wrong.
Avoid having fruit juice rather than the real thing, and smoothies are fine for a once-in-a-while treat, but they should not become regular drinks. Most experts believe that juicing and pulping fruits is not a good thing, partly because of the high sugar content and partly because the process removes all the fibre and has been linked to tooth decay and weight gain. Researchers from the University of Glasgow (see link below if you want to know more) identified a possible link between high fruit juice intake and an increased risk of diabetes, claiming that drinking a lot of fruit juice is potentially as bad for you as cola and lemonade.
And if you think that the whole matter can be put to bed by just changing to vegetables 100%, then think again. Seemingly healthier vegetable-based smoothies and juices, currently the darling of the celebrity set, can raise your sugar count in much the same way as fruit. Whilst some veg only contain small amounts of sugar (cauliflower, kale, sprouts), others are much sweeter than you’d think (carrots, parsnips, beetroot and peas). In exactly the same way as fruit takes a different form when crushed or pulped, so does vegetables.
So, if you’re a lover of fruit and see it as one of the more pleasurable weapons in the battle against weight gain, then what are the guidelines to follow?
– Eat two pieces of raw fruit as part of your “five” each day.
– Use fruit with other foods to make the serving more tasty. For instance, blueberries and natural yogurt make for a great breakfast.
– Avoid regular fruit juices and smoothies. Have a glass of water if you’re thirsty and one piece of fruit if you’re peckish.
– Avoid dried fruit if you can. A tablespoon of raisins sprinkled on your morning cereal is fine, a whole packet of dried apricots is absolutely not!
– Never binge on fruit – a open carton of grapes is as addictive (and almost as bad for you) as an open packet of biscuits.
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