Thursday, May 10, 2012

Apples to Oranges

Ahhhh fruit. How I love thee!

When I mentioned to someone that I was trying to limit my sugar intake and as a result, was eating less fruit and more veggies, they gasped. “What do you mean, you’re eating less fruit? I thought fruit was good for you!”.

This is where everything gets really confusing to me. Fruit is good for you, but it seems not all fruits are created equal.

Fruit is an area that I was very reluctant to learn about.  I love my fruit and used to have 4-5 servings of fruit per day and maybe, just maybe one serving of veggies.  I was reluctant to learn more about fruit, because I was afraid I'd learn that I really should give up some of my beloved fruit snacks in exchange for carrot sticks and broccoli!

The more I read, the more confusing fruit became...It seems that fruit is where a lot of the low-carb diets disagree. Some diets, like South Beach or The Zone, consider the glycemic index of fruit. Other diets, like Adkins, tend to look more total carbs. Some of these don’t even allow fruit at all in the initial phase!

And then there’s the whole uncertainty about sugar in general…does your body know the difference between high-fructose corn syrup, natural sugar and artificial sweeteners? I know in the “clean eating” arena, natural sugars such as honey and agave nectar are seen as acceptable and HFCS and artificial sweeteners are not. And, is there a difference between artificial sweeteners like sucrose versus say, Stevia? And what about sugar alcohol? I digress..this topic could be the topic for an entire post by itself.

See what I mean about confusing?

Back to fruit…

I found a nifty list showing your best bet for fruits if you are trying to watch your sugar intake. Here’s what I found:

Berries – Berries are typically the fruits lowest in sugar – strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, etc. They are also known for having lots of antioxidants and fiber! (Lemons, lime and rhubarb are also low in sugar, but they are not berries!)

Summer Fruits – Summer fruits are fruits like melons, peaches, nectarines and apricots.  These are low to medium in sugar.

Winter Fruits – Fruits that fall into this category are pineapple, pomegranates, mangos, bananas and fresh figs and are high in sugar.  Papaya and guava also fall into this category, but have less sugar than the others.

Others higher in sugar – Plums, oranges, kiwi, pears, cherries and grapes...I wasn't sure where these fit in.

Dried Fruit - Dates, raisins, died apricots and prunes are some of the highest in sugar.  Did you know that a date is a dried plum? I had no idea!

For a girl who has always eaten a banana daily and loves dried cranberries in her oatmeal, I decided to make a few adjustments!  (I made even more adjustments after my injury when I couldn't work out as intensely as before.)

But also keep in mind, some of the fruits highest in sugar have other great qualities, so you may not want to eliminate them from your diet completely. For example, bananas may be higher in sugar, but they are an excellent source of potassium. Melons are refreshing and can help keep you hydrated on a hot summer day. A kiwi fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and has almost as much potassium as a banana. And, dates and other dried fruits are an excellent source of dietary fiber!

It all goes back to that “everything in moderation” thing, I guess.

Another thing I’ve begun to consider with my fruit is whether or not to buy organic. When researching fruit and all of it's sugary goodness, I found an article listing both the fruits and veggies found in the “dirty dozen.”  The "dirty dozen" are the 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides. The more I read about these, the more I want to buy organic!

The Dirty Dozen
1.  Apples
2.  Celery
3.  Strawberries
4.  Peaches
5.  Spinach
6.  Nectarines
7.  Imported grapes (domestic grapes didn’t make the list)
8.  Sweet bell peppers
9.  Potatoes (don’t eat’em often anyway!)
10. Domestic Blueberries
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/Collard Greens

According to this article, “Picking five servings of fruits and vegetables from the 12 most contaminated would cause you to consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day."

Can we say ICK???

Although the article also states, “"The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure."  So, even eating non-organic fruits and veggies is better than not eating fruits and veggies at all.  While I knew of pesticides and was already buying some organic produce, reading some of this was very interesting (and scary). 

So what to do now?  I am still eating fruit, though not as much as before.  And, I am trying to eat the less sugary fruit.  I am also buying more and more's pricier, but hopefully worth it in the long run!

Are you concerned with the sugar content of fruit?  Do you buy organic?


JunieB said...

I do not buy organic. I wish I could afford it, but its just ridiculous. Thats why I like going to the farmers market. cheaper, local and you know very few if any pesticides.

As far as fruits, I will see a weight/puff gain if I eat too much fruit over the course of a few days. If my activity level is low or null (like the 3 days last week) I have to cut out fruit or else it will show and show BADLY.

Now I pretty much stick to strawberries, blueberries. in summer i have to have my watermelon and my cherries :)

TX Runner Mom said...

We just recently found some great farmer's markets out here! I missed Canino Mkt...used to go there when we lived in the city.

Laura @ Mommy run fast said...

Great post! We buy as much organic produce as we can, and it definitely changes the grocery bill! I had a hard time with it at first, but now I think of it more as "voting" with my money and values. As for sugar and fruit, I don't try to limit fruit at all, but I don't eat a ton of it either, so I'm somewhere in the middle, I guess!