Research on weight loss and nutrition consistently shows that eating fresh fruits benefits weight management and overall health. But in a society that avoids carbohydrates and sugar, the adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, is put to the test. There’s also the issue of processed fruit vs. fresh fruit. The processing can take away some of the vitamins and minerals of fresh fruit, which has contributed to the doubts surrounding the health benefits of fruits.
The Carbs and Sugars in Fruits
The carbohydrates and simple sugars found in fruits fuel some of the skepticism. However, experts claim that simple sugars from fruits are not the same as those found in processed food. For example, sugar from fruits have a lower glycemic load. This means that fruits cause a lower spike in blood sugar levels compared to sweets. Scoring lower in the glycemic index is critical for those with diabetes monitoring sugar intake.
Furthermore, fruits have lower sugar content than most processed food. An orange has 12 grams of sugar. Compare that to a can of coke, which has 33 grams. Add to that all the nutrients found in an orange.
In a nutshell, comparing fresh fruit to processed sweets is myopic thinking. In an attempt to focus on sugar and carb counting, we overlook the many benefits. Fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and anti-oxidant properties.
Why Fruits Are Considered Anti-Obesity and Healthy Food?
An analysis of the dietary effects of fruits breaks down the reasons why fruits are so good for us:
- Fruits are generally low in fat and high in water content. This makes fruit a low-energy dense food, which benefits weight management.
- Eating fruits makes us feel full for a longer period of time. Fruits are high in dietary fiber. This helps regulate appetite and lead to longer satiety. As a result, we feel less hungry.
- Eating fruits promotes gut health.
- Since fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, these nutrients can influence fat generation.
- Fruits have phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help stave off diseases by boosting the immune system and repair DNA damage.
Processed Fruits and What to Watch Out For
When adding more fruits to your diet, beware of processed and ultraprocessed versions. Natural fruit juices don’t contain as much fiber. Canned fruit can have added sugar for preservation and taste. Dried fruits lose the water, part of what makes fruit a low-energy dense foods. Dried fruit might also contain high amounts of added sugar, such as sweetened dried cranberries.
There are also products that masquerade as fruit such as SunnyD, which are mostly artificial flavors and coloring.
How Much Fruit Should I Eat?
The USDA My Plate has a recommended fruit serving based on age and gender. As always, consult your physician for any dietary changes. Let’s honor our different bodies, needs, and lifestyles.