There is a pervasive myth that fruit is a trojan horse when it comes to health. People will swear that fruit is unhealthy and filled with too much sugar. People compare it to juice, saying it seems virtuous but is dangerous. Because people hear the amount of sugar in fruit, they often assume that it’s as bad for your blood sugar and waistline as fruit juice. Relax. While fruit juice genuinely is unhealthy, whole fruit is an excellent source of nutrients and should hold a place in your diet. It’s not only not damaging to your health but is — in fact — great for you! Fruit is cholesterol free, low in fat and sodium, while containing potassium, protein and magnesium.
The reputation of fruit as nature’s candy is true; fruit can be deliciously sweet, but the high amount of fiber in fruit mitigates its sugar content. The sugars in fruit are glucose and fructose and are found naturally in vegetables and honey. Being found in nature does not inherently make it healthy, after all, high fructose corn syrup is the same sugar! So, what’s the difference between fruit and a cookie? Fiber! Fiber slows the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream, so your insulin doesn’t spike. Fiber also keeps you feeling full because it slows digestion. The other big difference is that the cookie doesn’t have antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
The glycemic index was created in the 1980s, a way for ranking food based on how they impacted blood sugar. Foods lower than 55 are “low,” between 56-69 are “moderate” and 70 or above are considered “high.” Watermelon and cantaloupe are quite high, as are dried fruit and canned fruit. Dried fruit is much denser than its fresh version, and canned fruit tends to be packed in syrup. Most fruits are on the low end of the scale: berries, oranges, apples, bananas, grapes, pears etc. You can read a fuller list here. Even if you are on the keto diet, fruit on the low end of the GI scale can be eaten in moderation without kicking you out of ketosis. Click here for a list of the best fruit of keto-adherents.
It is possible, as with any food, to overeat fruit. Even with low GI fruit, sugar does add up. WW (previously Weight Watchers) designates fruit as a “zero point” food. However, if you eat a ton of fruit, the sugar can be too much. Moreover, excess fiber can make you bloated. Therefore, it’s vital to enjoy fruit as part of a balanced diet and not to try a fruitarian diet if you have blood sugar concerns.
We hope that this blog makes you feel more educated about your diet choices. As always, you should speak to your doctor or a dietician before making drastic changes to your diet.