Friday, April 22, 2011


Writing about sour grapes yesterday reminded me to address fruit in general.  Canada's Food Guide recommends that adults eat 7 to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.  They may be fresh, frozen or canned (to add insult to injury, canned fruit is usually sweetened).   Unfortunately, the Food Guide puts fruits on a par with vegetables, advising that you eat "at least one vegetable or fruit at every meal and as a snack."

It's not that hard to understand the problems caused by refined starches and added sugar.  It's much more difficult to understand why fruit is not as healthy as we are led to believe.

Fruits are natural, right?  Well, as usual, the answer is "not exactly."

The fruits in our stores have been carefully hybridized, selected and, in some cases, even genetically engineered to be juicier, more palatable and sweeter than they normally would have been thousands of years ago.  I'll bet they have even changed in the past 20 years.

Their availability and beautiful presentation in grocery stores, and even their placement  closer to the entrance than vegetables, probably means many consumers purchase, and consume, more fruits than vegetables. 

Juicing and fruit smoothies easily take fruit sugar insulin rushes to a new level.  Dr. Davis tells us he has several patients with diabetes resulting from their daily fruit smoothies.

To put the sugars in fruit into some perspective, I have put together a little table showing the sugar counts for a number of common fruits.  I used the information from Fit Day.

Notice that the portion sizes are either one medium fruit, or 1 cup for fruits that are either much smaller or much bigger than the size of a hand.

Unfortunately Fit Day doesn't separate out the fructose content from the other sugars in these fruits.  Since fructose is just as undesirable from a health point of view as glucose, I think you will find the table useful regardless.  As regards grapes:
A large portion of the soluble solid is sugars. Glucose and fructose are the main sugars in the juice. The sugar content of the juice of ripe grapes varies between 150 to 250 g/L. In unripe berries, glucose is the predominant sugar. At the ripening stage, glucose and fructose are usually present in equal amounts (1:1 ratio). In overripe grapes, the concentration of fructose exceeds that of glucose. In ripe grapes, there is some variation in the glucose to fructose ratio among the grape varieties.

Looking at the whole table, watermelon, strawberries and peaches come out on top, but you need to ask yourself whether you normally eat just one peach, or just one cup of watermelon or strawberries at a time.  Or does their sweet juiciness when they are in season mean you end up consuming three consecutively?

Looking at fruit in relation to sugar cubes as Sugar Stacks does so well, the 590ml bottle of Coke (the one on the left) contains 65g of sugar, or a little more than 16 cubes of 4g each.

You exceed that sugar count when you eat 1 cup of grapes, a banana and an apple.

Just something to think about the next time you reach for nature's candy as recommended by Canada's Food Guide.

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