Did you see the Taranaki Daily News today? I was so thrilled to have been asked for an interview regarding That Sugar Film yesterday and I have to say, the photo-shoot was a lot of fun. I’ve read the article several times now, as you do, and there is one thing that keeps nagging at me. Perhaps it was just me, but though I felt that the article was great, it seemed to make me sound like I was anti-fruit. So I thought this would be the perfect time to clarify and chat with you about some of the different forms of sugar out there and whether or not we need to be weary of them all.
First of all, I am not completely anti-fruit. Fruit is not the bad guy here – it’s added sugars. The World Health Organisation recommends only 5% of our calories coming from sugar. Which equals about 6-8 tsp a sugar a day on average.
There are many different types of sugar out there today, both natural and added sugars. Natural sugars are those found in foods such as milk and yogurt as well as fruits and vegetables. Added sugars are those added to foods to give a certain flavour – just as you would add sugar to your coffee in the morning. Added sugars can come in the form of high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, beet sugar etc.
For a long time, I believed that as long as these forms of sugar were “natural” they were fine. I would consume heaps of raw treats made with dates, honey, maple syrup and rice syrup. Unfortunately I learned that our body is unable to tell the difference between natural sugars and unnatural ones and I paid the price. I’ve said it again and again, sugar is sugar. It’s true that, there are perhaps some trace minerals from some of the above but we shouldn’t turn to these sugars to get nutrients that we can get from whole foods such as fresh vegetables and fruit.
So, let’s look at fruit. Doesn’t it contain sugar too? Yes but…
First of all – the fruits of today are no way the same as they were hundreds of thousands of years ago. Back then fruits would have been tart and nearly inedible. The closest fruits to what our early ancestors would have eaten would have been fresh berries and even then, the sweetness would have been less so. Today’s fruit has been modified over the years to product the sweetest of tastes. They are bigger, juicier and down right delicious! So, because they have sugar, should we worry about consuming them? Yes and no.
Consuming fruit in my opinion becomes a problem when it takes over our consumption of veggies. Of the 5 recommended servings of fruits and veggies a day (which is far too little in my opinion) guides recommend only 2 of those be fruit.
When it comes to fruit, my research as well as my own experience has led me to the following conclusions.
1. Stick to no more than 2 servings of fruit a day when possible. If you have blood sugar imbalances or are trying to lose weight, stick with low sugar fruits such as berries, avocados, grapefruit etc and avoid high sugar fruits such as bananas or mangos.
2. To help balance blood sugars, eat fruit towards the end of the day, preferably in the evening, perhaps as a dessert. This will give you energy for a deep sleep and prevent blood sugar spikes throughout the day.
3. Stick to fruit that is in season and local. These are the ones that come from your farmers markets, your neighbours tree and local vendors. This way you know you are getting fruit that is at its nutritional peak and engaging in sustainable practice.
4. Fresh fruit should also be consumed rather than dried fruit, which is a highly concentrated form of sugar. We can easily eat a box of raisins however consuming its equivalent in grapes would be a bit harder to do.
5. Enjoy your fruit with love and without worry. There are far worse things on the planet that we consume rather than fruit. Let’s not focus too much on limiting fruit and instead focus more on crowding in those veggies!