Diabetics and those trying to lose weight often avoid fruit, worried about its sugar content. There is no need to worry if you eat whole fresh fruit. It is nature’s perfectly packaged food, complete with fibre, water, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The fibre and water naturally slow down the sugar uptake. Eating more fruit is associated with lower risk of disease, heart attack and stroke. In fact, several randomized controlled trials have shown that increased fruit intake can lower blood pressure, reduce oxidative stress and improve glycemic control in diabetics.
Contrary to popular opinion, eating fruit can definitely help with weight loss. Fruit is a nutrient-dense food, high in nutrients but relatively low in calories. It ranks high on the satiety index — it will fill you up until you are stuffed, but with way fewer calories than if you were eating, say, chips, or hamburgers. (Not to say you should ever eat until you are stuffed – better to eat until you just feel satisfied).
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, “the edible skins of many fruits – including apples, apricots, blueberries, figs, grapes, pears, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, and strawberries – are all sites of important biological activity in the life of the fruit. The skin is one of the places where the fruit interacts with sunlight, and forms a variety of coloured pigments that absorb different wavelengths of light. These pigments, including carotenoids and flavonoids, are well researched as nutrients that protect our health and nourishment. The skins of whole fruits like grapes have actually been studied for their ability to help lower risk of cancer and help provide protection from ultraviolet light.”
Dried fruit or fruit juice are not in the same ball park as whole, fresh fruit. Because the water has been removed from dried fruit, sugar and calories are concentrated in a much smaller package. With fruit juice, the fibre has been removed and without fibre, the sugar in the fruit is absorbed much more quickly and may result in sugar spikes and a far higher caloric intake.
Here is some fruit inspiration, for breakfast or snacks. A lot of these ideas use the exact same fruits, but presentation is everything. If your plate looks colourful and appetizing, it’s more fun to eat it.