Why fruits? To start, Diets high in fruits are widely recommended for their health-promoting properties. The fruits have been part of the human diet for thousands of years because of their concentrations of vitamins, especially vitamins C and A; minerals, especially electrolytes; and phytochemicals, especially antioxidants. Let’s not forget vast amount of fiber in fruits. Fruits are real whole foods that come from plants without any processing and hopefully without being genetically modified. Fruits are readily available and easy to prep and eat.

Unfortunately, there are tons of myths against these delicious and nutrient packed foods. So I decided to look deeper into the facts about fruits and hopefully help you to make the right decision by eating fruits the right way. Before going too deep into the facts, lets talk about if there is really a good time to eat fruits, the recommended fruit intake and if we are eating enough fruits.
When is the best time to eat fruit?
There are some articles suggesting that fruits should be eaten alone or with other fruits on an empty stomach, therefore they are suggesting that the best time to eat fruits are in the morning. Their reasoning is: If you eat fruit close to a meal, especially right after a larger meal and combine with other foods, it’s held in the stomach too long along with other foods and will rot and ferment in the gut. This is a complete myth and here is my reasoning:
  1. There are no scientific studies that will prove this,
  2.  While it is true that it takes longer to digest fruits, due to their high volume of fiber, they by no means slow digestion down enough to cause food to spoil in the stomach.
  3. Even if fruit did cause food to sit in your stomach for significantly longer than usual, your stomach is specifically designed to prevent the growth of bacteria, which is what causes fermentation and rotting (20). When food reaches the stomach, it’s mixed with stomach acid, which has a very low pH of about one or two. Your stomach contents become so acidic that most microorganisms cannot grow (20).
So Eat your fruits, however and whenever you want, just make sure you eat enough.
How much fruit should we eat?
The amount of fruit you need to eat depends on age, sex, and level of physical activity. Recommended daily amounts according to choosemyplate.gov are shown in the table below.

DAILY FRUIT TABLE
DAILY RECOMMENDATION*
Children 2-3 years old

4-8 years old

1 cup

1 to 1 ½ cups

Girls 9-13 years old

14-18 years old

1 ½ cups

1 ½ cups

Boys 9-13 years old

14-18 years old

1 ½ cups

2 cups

Women 19-30 years old

31-50 years old

51+ years old

2 cups

1 ½ cups

1 ½ cups

Men 19-30 years old

31-50 years old

51+ years old

2 cups

2 cups

2 cups

*These amounts are appropriate for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. Those who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs.

Do we eat enough fruits?

According to Dietary guidelines 2015-2020, only 1/4 of the United States population eats enough fruits. See the table below for details:

fruit intake

Proven health benefits of fruits:

Many studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of many diseases. Here are some of the findings:

  • Reduction in risk of heart disease by 7% for each daily portion of fruit (1).
  • 46% lower risk of Diabetes in women. A study on 9,665 adults in the U.S. Found that fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 46% lower risk of diabetes in women, but there was no difference in men (2)
  •  Associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and stroke, the two most common causes of death in Western countries (3, 4).
  • Those who consumed the most grapes, apples and blueberries had a lower risk of type II diabetes, with blueberries having the strongest effect. According to a study that compared the effect of different types of fruit on Type II diabetes (5).

 

How to choose the best fruits, especially if you are concerned with your weight:

Hopefully, you are convinced that fruits are good for you and unfortunately most of us are not eating enough, but you probably are still scared about the sugar content of fruits and wanting to know how to get all the benefits of fruits without over consuming Calories. I get it, fruits like any other foods have calories and if you eat too much of them (even though, it is very hard to over eat fruit), they can cause problems. When choosing fruits, especially if you are trying to manage your weight, there are 4 categories that you need to look at. The higher your fruit of choice scores in these categories, the better that fruit is for you. And to make it even easier for you, I have created a worksheet that summarizes all of these values and you can download it here and take it with you next time you go grocery shopping. So here they are:

fruit facts download

 

1. Fiber content: The more fiber in your fruit, the better

A few reasons why fiber in fruits is important:

  • Fiber Reduces constipation
  • Reduces cholesterol levels (6)
  • Reduces blood glucose levels (7, 8)
  • Increases digestive health (9, 10)
  • Increases immune support (11)
  • Weight Management  (12, 13)

2. Water content: The higher the water content, the better

Learning the percentage of water in fruits and vegetables may be more important than satisfying mere curiosity. It turns out that water from the food you eat is more than a minor consideration. Food actually provides 20 percent of your recommended daily intake of water, according to the Institute of Medicine. Besides their many nutritional benefits, another good reason to eat your daily fruits and vegetables is to get their high percentage of water.

In addition to replenishing your body’s fluids, the water in fruits contributes one of two factors that make them such good choices for weight management. Water and fiber add bulk, yet don’t contain calories. A higher percentage of both results in foods with fewer calories per portion. This is why it is really hard to over eat fruits. Because of high Water and Fiber content of most fruits, you get fuller faster and stay fuller longer.

3. Sugar Content: The lower the sugar, the better

Here is where many of us struggle when it comes to fruits.

There is a lot of evidence that added sugar is harmful (14, 15, 16). This includes table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup, which are both about half glucose, half fructose. The main reason they are harmful, is because of the negative metabolic effects of fructose when consumed in large amounts.

The sugar in fruits is in the form of fructose, and we just said that fructose can be harmful, that is why Many people now believe that fruits are bad for you. Let’s take a step back, fructose can be harmful when consumed in large amount and it is almost impossible to overeat fructose by eating whole fruits.

Why? Because fruits are loaded with fiber, water and have significant chewing resistance. For this reason, most fruits (like apples) take a while to eat and digest, meaning that the fructose hits the liver slowly. Plus, fruit is incredibly fulfilling. Most people will feel satisfied after one large apple, which contains 23 grams of sugar, 13 of which are fructose (17). Compare that with a 16oz bottle of Coke… which contains 52 grams of sugar, 30 of which are fructose (18).

A single apple would make you feel quite full, automatically making you eat less of other foods. However, a bottle of soda has remarkably poor effects on satiety and people don’t compensate for the sugar in sodas by eating less of other foods (19).

When fructose hits your liver fast and in large amounts (soda and a candy bar) then that can have disastrous consequences… but when it hits your liver slowly and in small amounts (an apple) then your body can easily take care of the fructose.

 

4. Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load: The lower the GI and GL, the better

What is the Glycemic Index (GI)?

The Glycemic Index (GI) measures how quickly foods break down into sugar in your bloodstream. High glycemic foods turn into blood sugar very quickly.

The glycemic Index uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar.

What is the Glycemic Load (GL)?

The GI tells you how fast foods spike your blood sugar. But the GI won’t tell you how much carbohydrate per serving you’re getting. That’s where the Glycemic Load is a great help. It measures the amount of carbohydrate in each service of food. Foods with a glycemic load under 10 are good choices—these foods should be your first choice for carbs. Foods that fall between 10 and 20 on the glycemic load scale have a moderate effect on your blood sugar. Foods with a glycemic load above 20 will cause blood sugar and insulin spikes. Try to eat those foods sparingly.

Your body performs best when your blood sugar is kept relatively constant. If your blood sugar drops too low, you become lethargic and/or experience increased hunger. And if it goes too high, your brain signals your pancreas to secrete more insulin. Insulin brings your blood sugar back down, but primarily by converting the excess sugar to stored fat. Also, the greater the rate of increase in your blood sugar, the more chance that your body will release an excess amount of insulin, and drive your blood sugar back down too low.

Bottom line:

Fruits are good for you, especially if you eat the right kind of fruits. It is almost impossible to overeat fruits due to their high fiber and water content. There is not a good or bad time for eating fruits, we just need to make sure we are getting enough of them in our diet, especially since 3/4 of us in the USA are not consuming enough. Don’t worry too much about the sugar in fruits, since the fructose from fruits gets metabolized differently than fructose in processed sugars. Most importantly, don’t forget to get your free tool to choose the best of the best, when it comes to fruits, here.

fruit facts download

Stay happy and healthy

Roya

 

 

 

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