Should I be eating fruit?

By Diane Stephenson, Nutritional Therapist.

There have been lots of headlines about how too much sugar can negatively affect our health and this is true -our bodies have very clever balancing mechanisms to make sure we don’t have too much sugar in our blood stream at any point but this can stop working if we constantly take on board too much sugar, leading to type 2 diabetes amongst other problems.

Fruit does contain sugar in the form of fructose but whole fruits also contain lots of things that are SO good for us. The colours in plants contain natural chemicals called phytonutrients and the wider the range of the colours that we eat the more of these we take on board. In addition, fruit contains vitamins, minerals, fibre and often some protein.

Take a look at a medium banana – yes it contains some sugar but it also has three grams of fibre, a little bit of protein, about a tenth of your potassium need for the day, about a fifth of your daily B-6 vitamin needs, and a splash of vitamin C amongst other good things. Plus, there’s just one ingredient in a banana: banana. This is different from a 2 finger Kit-Kat which contains a similar number of calories. Why do you think you see tennis players reach for a banana and not a chocolate bar mid-match?

If we take fruit on board as juice the fibre has been taken out and it has a much bigger impact on our blood sugar levels so eating the whole fruit is much better for us.

My recommendations would be to limit fruit to 2 portions a day and to focus in the main on fruit that grow naturally in this country so apples, pears, berries and cherries. These are all lower in sugar than the tropical fruits like mango, guava, papaya and pineapple.

We can also reduce the impact of fruit on our blood sugar levels by eating something with protein and fat at the same time. Good ideas would be to eat a piece of fruit with a small handful of nuts – using a square Post It note as a guide to the maximum portion – or cut an apple up and dip the segments in a little nut butter – there are lots of different ones out now, cashew, almond, etc. as well as peanut!

Enjoy your fruit – but in moderation.