We’ve all heard it before. Fruit contains sugar, therefore fruit is bad and the reason for being overweight.
But is fruit really the reason for an unhealthy weight gain?
Let’s look at what the research has to say and dive further into the impacts of daily fruit intake.
Fruit contains a type of sugar (carbohydrate) called fructose. This is also know as “fruit sugar” and what people are often told to avoid when trying to lose weight.
So why are we told to avoid fruit when trying to lose weight? Isn’t fruit full of vitamins and fibre?
Well, over time, people have over-simplified fruit and likened it to a lolly, simply because of the amount of sugar it holds. You may have also heard that fruit spikes your insulin levels, leading to an increase in hunger and then an energy crash.
Let’s break down the nutritional value of an apple versus jellybeans.
The sugar content in 100g of apple is roughly 10g, this is approximately the same as when you consume 10 jelly beans.
When you ingest 100g of apple you are consuming approximately 10% of your daily recommended fibre, however, when you digest 10 jelly beans you get 0g of fibre with no other nutritional benefits such as vitamins and minerals.
The GI of an apple is 38, this is a low GI reading (the lower the better). Jelly beans have a GI of 78 which is considered high, leading to a higher and faster glucose and insulin spike compared to the apple.
Lastly, jellybeans hold no nutritional value, while apples are a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2 Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Folate (folic acid).
So although you may be consuming a similar amount of sugar when comparing the two, the health benefits are vastly different. By consuming high levels of fibre, vitamins and minerals your body can function well, providing you with a healthy digestive system, a well functioning immune system and energy to take on the day. This can lead to a more active, healthy lifestyle which has a positive flow on effect to weight.
There is also research completed by Dr Katherine Livingstone out of Deakin University who reports that the intake of fruit is actually linked to lower levels of obesity.
“Our main findings are that a DP (dietary pattern) characterised by low DED, high fibre density and high sugar intakes (from fruits) was associated with lower prevalence of overweight or obesity, whereas a DP with low fibre density and high sugar intake (from chocolate and fruit drinks) was associated with higher prevalence of overweight or obesity.”
“Although natural and added sugars are chemically comparable, they may have opposing influences on obesity prevalence because of the influence of the surrounding food matrix.”
So if you are trying to lose weight and wondering whether your fruit intake should be lowered, it’s important to take a common sense approach. Yes, consuming 5 bananas a day is probably not going to be helpful when trying to lose weight, however choosing 2-3 servings of fruit and berries each day can lead to long-term health and is certainly not going to be the tipping point on the scales. It’s important we don’t demonise the sugar found in fruit, because the benefits far outweighs the minor sugar content.
As always, everything in moderation and don’t be afraid to eat fruit! Chances are, it’s actually making you healthier!