Last week I wrote about the benefits of eating nuts. Today I want to warn you of the risk of eating too much fruit, including dried fruit, and especially fruit juice.
Fruit is included in the Canada Food Guide for a reason. It provides us with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other plant based nutrients like flavonoids, resveratrol and polyphenols, which are essential for good health. The drawback is that it also contains a lot of sugar (and most of it is fructose, the worst sugar as previously discussed).
The Food Guide (which I understand is greatly simplified to improve understanding and compliance) unfortunately lumps fruit in with vegetables, giving a range of 8-10 total servings for adult males aged 35-50. It is assumed you will choose a variety from both as there is a big difference nutritionally between 10 bananas and 5 cups of broccoli!
I also disagree with the Guide’s inclusion of canned fruit and fruit juice. Canned fruit is peeled and cooked so is depleted of most of its nutrients, and has added sugar (or pear juice which is really no better). Fruit juice is just as bad and is not much better than soda pop. There are few nutrients and little fiber left in juice but it has all (or more) of the sugar. And it’s much easier to over-consume juice than whole fruit.
A recent study from Harvard (published in the August 2013 British Medical Journal) using data from the Nurses Health Study (1991-2009) – the same source as the nut study in last week’s article – found that certain whole fruits, especially blueberries, grapes and apples, reduced the risk of Type 2 Diabetes while fruit juice significantly increased the risk. Because of its high fructose content, fruit juice also increases your risk of gout, high blood pressure and, of course, obesity.
Dried fruit has most of the nutrients and fiber but also has all of the sugar of whole fruit. The problem, as with juice, is that it’s easy to overdo it. Eat no more of it than you would the whole fruit, and drink extra water to help with digestion.
The best way to eat fruit is fresh, whole and raw. Berries have the most nutrients and the least sugar. Other fruits with lower sugar are prunes, apricots and kiwifruit. The highest are mango, pears and watermelon. If you are diabetic or insulin-resistant be especially careful to limit these. See Dr. Mercola's fructose chart here.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.