Fruit & Sugar: How to Maintain a Healthy Balance

11 Jul

“I can’t eat fruit, I don’t want to get fat.” Does that statement have any truth to it? …..Let’s find out.

Fruit, compared to many other options, is a great choice.  It often contains a decent amount of fiber helping to fill the body and has a variety of nutrients.  The downfall to fruit can be its sugar content.  Sugar is something we should try to limit in our diet, as having too much causes all sorts of issues for us.  So, it’s not to say you can’t have some, it is to say that you keep the amount in check.

There are two types of sugars, those occurring naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and those in dairy (lactose).  Other sugars are those sugars and caloric sweeteners  added during processing.  The American Heart Association (www.Heart. Org)   recommends we limit out sugar intake to 26 grams a day for women and 36 for men.  Those should come from naturally occurring sugars.

So, think about your diet.  I’m guessing the vast majority of us are consuming way too much sugar.  It’s partially habit, lack-of-knowledge, convenience, and let’s face it, it just tastes good.  One thing that helps is to be educated on where you find sugar though, which will aid in beginning to limit our consumption.

Fruit is not all created equally.  When looking at the sugar content, here’s how it stacks up:

Blackberries: 7 Grams Per Serving

Strawberries: 7 Grams Per Serving

Apples: 13 Grams

Pineapples 16 Grams

Bananas: 18 Grams

Grapes: 23 Grams

Here are some simple tips to help you maintain reasonable amounts of sugar intake:

1)      When reaching for fruit, pick berries first.  Overall they seem to be one of the lowest on the spectrum of sugar content.  That and the fact that they are packed full of vitamins make them a good choice.

2)      Don’t drink your food.  It’s easy to throw a bunch of fruit in a blender and feel like you are eating healthy but it’s important to remember that the body craves the sensation that comes along with chewing.  Allowing yourself to actually eat foods rather than drink all of them aids in this desire. In addition, we often consume more than necessary when we drink our calories because it goes down so easily.  This is particularly true of fruit smoothies. Same goes for juicing oranges.  Fresh squeezed orange juice tastes delicious but should be reserved for a treat, as it can easily result in quickly downing 5 oranges, putting us over our daily limit.

3)      Shop the produce section, not the grocery store isles for fruit.  Canned peaches in heavy syrup do not constitute fruit.  There is very little in the way of nutrition in canned fruits and whenever possible the best choices are fresh fruit.  Frozen fruit without any additives is also a good option.

4)      Avoid the attitude of “It has fruit in it, it must be healthy”.  There is nothing farther from the truth.  Fruit is contained in many products and dishes but that does not mean it’s healthy.  Even dried fruit is often coated in sugar and should be avoided unless it’s something you consider your “treat”.

5)      Combine fruit with other things.  Get your fruit intake by adding a bit of fruit to a variety of dishes you eat during the day.  Considering adding blueberries to Greek yogurt, apples to Steel-cut oats and bananas with a tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter.  Doing this can help you combine proteins, carbs and healthy fats to your snacks.

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