With growing research pointing out to fructose as being a key contributor in our chronic disease epidemics, fruit-phobia is growing and many people are turning to other carbohydrates like sweet potatoes or resistant starches instead.
But I want to share with you some facts that will leave you smiling if you love fruit.
First of all, those fears are unfounded. Far from harmful, fruit provides a wide range of micronutrients, phytochemicals, and FIBER and on top of all that, it is delicious, certainly a perfect food to have in our diet.
The blend of prebiotic fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals in fruit makes it incredibly beneficial to our health. Eating at least 3 servings of fruit a day has shown to improve constipation, gastrointestinal health, cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and help in weight management to name just a few.
What is even more amazing, is that every fruit has its own micronutrient structure, so selecting the right fruits can help you support your health and obtain those nutrients that you need most.
And how about those phytochemicals that protect us against chronic disease?
Yes, those bright colors and yummy scents contained in fruits and other plants, have protective qualities that keep us healthy.
Let’s take a look:
- Anthocyanidins found in fruits with a blue, purple, or deep red color have anti-inflammatory effects and help to reduce pain.
- Flavanones found in citrus, have the capacity to reduce inflammation, protect the heart, reduce free radical damage, reduce hypertension and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Flavanols ample in apples, cherries and pears. Increase antioxidant capacity, protect against cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes, reduce brain inflammation, protect DNA.
- Flavan-3-ols found in grapes, cranberries, apples, strawberries, bananas, peaches, pears. Improve blood flow, reduce the risk of certain cancers, protect the heart.
- Tannins contained in berries, persimmons and pomegranates. Reduce blood pressure, support our defenses against pathogens, increase antioxidant capacity and improve blood lipids.
- Lycopene found in tomatoes, papaya, peaches, guava, mango, apricots, watermelon. Protect the heart, reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin found in oranges, kiwis, melon, mangoes, grapes, peaches. Support eye health and can help avert cataracts.
- Stilbenes contained in cranberries, grape skins and blueberries. Protect us against neurological diseases, protect the heart, reduce the risk of diabetes.
Another very important factor to consider is that fructose is not the only type of sugar in fruit.
Often times, it is not even the main type of sugar. This is because all fruit contains a combination of fructose, glucose, and sucrose and each type of fruit has different proportions of these sugars, this reduces the fructose portion when fruit is broken down and doesn’t have the negative impact in the body as other foods that contain high concentrations of fructose such as: sodas, syrups, packaged foods and fructose-based sweeteners.
These foods contain no fiber, and because fructose is metabolized in the liver, they may increases the risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver, fat storage and inflammation.
Talking about fiber, it truly marks a difference in fruit.
Fresh fruit is rich in fiber and also contains water, this creates bulk which prevents not only over eating but also slows down digestion reducing a glycemic spike and contributing to digestive health and proper elimination of body waste.
Until next time!
Functional Nutrition Counselor, CHN, BCHHP,BCHC