Everyone knows fruit is good for you. As children, our parents told us, “Candy isn’t healthy. Have an apple instead.” Grandpa informed us that an orange was “a tasty dessert” in his day, and chided us for wanting cake or pudding instead. Fruit is all nutrients, no “sugar.” Right?
Not exactly. Though various types of fruit ARE packed with vitamins and a few necessary minerals – and, depending upon the type, can be low in calories – not everyone processes fruit easily, or well. And not all fruits are created equal. Here’s why.
First, the Good News
No, we’re not taking your cantaloupe away from you: overwhelmingly, fruit in moderation is good for you. If you’re on a weight-loss program, an apple, pear, a small handful of grapes or some orange slices can help round out your dinner (rather than a calorie-dense dessert) or can hold you over between meals.
Besides containing nutrients, fruit generally contains water in fairly high concentrations and is vital for keeping you hydrated as a supplement to your water bottle.
Added to these benefits is fiber. In contrast to juice, fruit retains its fiber, which aids digestion while slowing the insulin spike that follows eating any food.
Some fruits are very portable, too, making them the perfect grab-and-go snack.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
But like anything else in life (sorry – we hate this too), there really IS such a thing as too much of a good thing, even when it comes to something as innocent as fruit. For one thing, though it can be low in calories, not all fruits are low-calorie, and eating “just one more apple” on top of the two you’ve just munched will eventually begin to add up (at 80 calories per medium apple).
For another, not all fruits are created calorically equal (or, if you’re watching these as well, carbohydrate-equal). Strawberry halves are just 46 calories per cup, but grapes pack 114 calories into the same-size serving. And some may surprise you: remember all the hubub about eating grapefruit? Surprisingly, it contains 82 calories in one medium-size fruit. Meanwhile, dates are a whopping 490 calories per cup (ouch).
Generally, fructose – naturally-occurring fruit sugar – is considered somewhat safer for Type II diabetics than other forms of sugar (especially sucrose, or table sugar), as the body seems to respond to it somewhat better. However, this isn’t true of all people, and research is still divided on the subject.
If you are Type II diabetic, sample small amounts of fruit by using your glucose meter to discover how your body responds to them. If the response is within the parameters your doctor has given you, go ahead and add that fruit to your diet. If not, leave it on your plate.
Type I diabetics: always follow your doctor’s instructions on food types and timing, and insulin timing.
If You’re Still Not Losing Weight
Given a goal of weight loss or maintenance, if you’re watching your fruit portions but still aren’t losing weight, it may be something else, not that apple a day.
Look into other factors, such as your total calorie count, your macro ratios (protein, fat and carbohydrates) per your doctor’s recommendations, and your activity level.
With a little experimentation, you will discover which fruits you can safely and effectively add to your eating plan.