Thursday, February 16, 2012

The F-Word

Fresh fruit will not make you fat.

I don't know about you, but my favorite part of any food store is the produce department. I love the rainbow of colors, shapes and sizes on display. The playful misting of the lettuces, the exotic vegetables I've never heard of from parts of the world I've only read about. I can't imagine anyone getting fat by eating a variety of any combination of the foods you find here. So why do people think fruit will make them fat?

It's the F-Word - Fructose

Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide and one of three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Unlike glucose which can be immediately available to the muscles, however, fructose must first be processed in the liver, giving it the lowest glycemic index of all sugars.

Naturally, fructose is found in fruit, many plants and some vegetables, but not in very high concentrations. Fructose is very sweet - perhaps the sweetest of all natural sugars. That's why an orange can taste amazing with just 2.25g fructose per 100g of fruit. To think you can get fat from eating fresh fruit is just absurd.

Beware of Dried Fruit

All fruit is not alike. While I LOVE the chewy bundles of natural sugar called dates, they top the list of sugary fruits weighing in at 73g of total sugar per 100g of fruit - about half of which is fructose. Raisins, Craisins and all other manner of dried fruit also pack a wallop in the sugar department, so tread lightly here.

Why the bad rap?
If getting fat from fresh fruit is impossible, then why has fructose been villainized?

In short, I like to blame modern chemistry. Commercially, fructose is usually derived from sugar cane, sugar beets and corn and can be found in high concentrations in all manner of food products from baked goods and condiments to juice boxes and soda. Fructose in its most natural form comes complete with tons of water, fiber and various micro nutrients making it hard as hell to overeat. When it's separated from the mother ship and processed into a syrup and poured into a can, the concentration that humans can consume quickly and easily shoots to the moon - and back!

You would have to eat 13 oranges to get the same amount of fructose found in ONE 20 oz. non-diet soda.

Which do you think will make you feel full?

 Are you beginning to see the problem? Now, add increased fructose consumption to the fact that this sweetest-of-sweet has been shown in studies to suppress Leptin - the hormone that tells our body that we're not hungry. High leptin = low appetite and vice-versa. At the same time, it raises levels of Ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. The result? Feeling hungrier; eating more.

Ever eat a brownie or drink a Coke and want another...and another...and another? Does the same thing happen when you eat apples? No, of course not.

Fruit is Berry Friendly
I'd like to introduce you to your friendly neighborhood strawberry. Weighing in at approximately 5.3g sugar/100g of fruit, this little gem is 91% water. Binge all you want on strawberries. Unless they're coated in a pound of chocolate, they will not make you fat.

So set your fear of fresh fruit aside and indulge. Grab a kiwi, a pile of berries, even a banana *gasp* and EAT. Not only will you satisfy your sweet tooth, you will be loading up your body with vitamins, minerals and fiber to keep your motor revving. 

Disclaimer: If you're eating like a pig and consuming more calories than you are using in a day, you will gain weight over time.

QUICK FRUIT LIST- Fructose per 100 grams
Eat from the bottom up on this list and you can't go wrong

1. Dates, 32 grams/32%
2. Raisins, 29.7 grams/27.9%
3. Figs, 22.9 grams/22.9%
4. Prunes, 12.5 grams/12.5%
5. Grapes, 8.13 grams/8.13%
6. Pears, 6.23 grams/6.23%
7. Cherries, 6 grams/6%
8. Apples, 5.9 grams/5.9%
9. Persimmon, 5.56 grams/5.56%
10. Blueberry, 4.97 grams/4.97%
11. Bananas, 4.85 grams/4.85%
12. Kiwi Fruit, 4.35 grams/4.35%
13. Watermelon, 3.36 grams/3.36%
14. Plums, 3.07 grams/3.07%
16. Honeydew Melon, 2.96 grams/2.96%
17. Grapefruit, 2.5 grams/2.5%
18. Strawberry, 2.5 grams/2.5%
19. Blackberry, 2.4 grams/2.4%
20. Raspberry, 2.35 grams/2.35%
21. Orange, 2.25 grams/2.25%
22. Pineapple, 2.05 grams/2.05%
23. Cantaloupe, 1.87 grams/1.87%
24. Peach, 1.53 grams/1.53%
25. Nectarine, 1.37 grams/1.37%
26. Apricot, 0.94 gram/0.94%



jaysond said...

i have 60oz blueberries and 6oz of either raspberries/blackberries, 1 large apple, 1TBS raw honey on training days. love my fresh fruit. GREAT ARTICLE Jenn, hopefully someone will learn something new today!

jaysond said...

i meant 6oz blueberries LOL, 6oz!

Anonymous said...

jen how is your cut coming along??

Denver Health and Fitness said...

Helpful chart Jenn.. looks like you are really passionate about healthy diet..

Jo Harvey said...

I found this really helpful, I got scared off of fruit a year or so ago by a trainer who announced it would make my body produce loads of insulin which would store everything as fat, and before this I used to love fruit. Am going to be buying myself some strawberries this weekend, thanks!