Fruit & Fructose – Good or Bad?

When it comes to embracing a lower sugar lifestyle, the topic of fruit and fructose confuses so many people.

Should you eat fruit on a low sugar diet? Will fructose make me fat? Aren’t all forms of sugar bad? How much per day is recommended? Which are high/low sugar fruits?

In my opinion, there is information overload out there on this topic so I’m going to try to make this blog as simple & succinct as I can!

So, as we know, fructose is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit (and vegetables but to a lesser degree). So, should we eliminate fruit from our diet if we want to follow a low sugar diet? In my opinion, no, we shouldn’t.

Fructose has gotten a lot of bad press in recent years because we now know that eating too much of it can have a negative impact on our weight and heart health. However, it’s the concentrated, man made forms of fructose we need to be most wary of i.e. High Fructose Corn Syrup and Crystalline Fructose that can be found in soft drinks, juice drinks and sweets. Concentrated Fructose is not found in fruit, or anywhere else in nature. As a result, our bodies don’t recognise it and we digest it differently than the natural fructose found in nature, i.e. fruit.

Fructose naturally occurring in whole fruits is not isolated or concentrated, it’s bound to other naturally occurring sugars and is accompanied by natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and fruit pectin which allow our bodies to digest and utilise it in a more healthful way.

Fructose fruit apple

So, whilst we should limit our overall intake of fructose, we should not eliminate fruit from our diet. I would also encourage you not to buy into the latest ‘you can have any type of sugar as longs as it’s not fructose’ craze either. ALL forms of sugar are detrimental to our heath if over-consumed not just fructose.

That said, I do think it’s important to have an awareness of the varying sugar content of fruit and vegetables so you can choose wisely particularly if you have blood sugar issues and/or are trying to manage your weight. In my opinion,  2-3 portions of fruit per day will give you a good amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre without causing problems.

Sugar Content Of Fruit & Vegetables

In a nutshell, some fruits and vegetables contain higher amount of fast releasing sugars than others and so need to be eaten in moderation and in smaller amounts. These include starchy vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, swede, yams and sweet fruits such as bananas and grapes.

The table below will help guide you in terms of which carbohydrates (including fruits and vegetables) to eat more often and which to eat less often and in modest portions;

Carbohydrates – Better Choice Guide

 

  Grain/Seed based foods Vegetables Fruit
Great Choice The slow release carbohydrates in this category are ideal choices because they are relatively low-glycemic foods which means they’ll keep your blood sugar levels stable so you’ll feel fuller and energised for longer. OatsQuinoaPearl BarleyBulgur Wheat

Millet

Amaranth

 

AsparagusBroccoliBrussels sproutsBean sprouts

Cabbage

Cauliflower

Celery

Courgette

Cucumber

Fennel

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green Beans

Kale

Lettuce

Leek

Mange tout

Mushrooms

Onions (all types)

Peppers

Rocket

Runner beans

Spinach

Spring onion

Watercress

 

 

 

ApplesApricots (fresh)Avocado*Blackberries

Blueberries

Cranberries (fresh)

Gooseberries

Grapefruit

Lemon/Lime

Pears

Plums

Raspberries

Strawberries

Tomatoes

 

Good Choice The foods at this level will trigger a moderate glycemic response which means they’ll raise blood sugar levels at a reasonably steady rate provided they’re eaten in moderate amounts. 

The foods in this category are nutritious foods but still need to be eaten in moderate amounts.

Brown RiceWhole-wheat pasta/ noodlesWholegrain breadSoba noodles

Cous Cous

AuberginePeasBeetrootCarrot

Butternut Squash

Pumpkin

Sweet Potato

CherriesGrapesMangoesMelon

Nectarine

Papaya

Kiwi

Peaches

Pineapple

Tangerines

 

 

Adequate ChoiceMost of the foods in this category contain fast release carbohydrates so will raise blood sugar levels fast and provide only short term energy.  Although the fruit and vegetables within this category do offer nutritional value, they need to be eaten in strict moderation to maintain healthy blood sugar balance. White riceWhite pastaEgg/Rice Noodles  White PotatoesParsnipsSwedeYams

Sweet Corn

BananasDatesDried FruitFigs

Fruit Juices

Prunes

 

 

 

Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist & Author of Bestselling Book ‘Goodbye Sugar’.

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