Fruit is being singled out as one of the key culprits in America’s obesity crisis. Trouble is, fruit–because it contains natural sugar–sometimes gets lumped in with foods like baked goods, candy, and sugary drinks.
Fruit is NOT making you fat. Here is why:
Fruit eaters tend to weigh less
People who eat more servings of fruit have lower BMIs. Scientists aren’t sure why, but it may be because fruits tend to replace higher calorie goodies. In other words, you’re much more likely to choose an apple instead of a cookie. And that swap-out strategy can result in significant calorie savings over time.
Fresh fruit is packed with water and fiber
Fresh fruit is high in water and fiber, so its naturally occurring sugar is less concentrated than other sweet foods. For example, one cup of strawberries naturally contains about 7 grams of sugar, compared to about 17 grams of sugar in a 16 oz Caffe Latte from Starbucks, 17 grams in one Pop Tart, or 30 grams in a 12 ounce can of cola!! Keep in mind I said fresh fruit, not dried fruit. A cup of dried fruit packs 5-8x more calories and sugar than a cup of fresh fruit. Heres some perspective: a cup of grapes is 60 calories, while a cup of raisins is 460 calories!
Now, I’m not saying you can eat unlimited amounts of fruit everyday.
Fruit contains antioxidants
A study took photos of people, and asked others to rate the pictures. Those who ate an average of 2.9 more portions of produce daily, including both veggies and fruits, were rated as healthier looking, and more attractive. Antioxidants are the explanation.
Fruit provides energy
If you workout, consuming fruit pre-workout is a great way to fuel exercise. When comparing bananas to a sports drink, bananas provide antioxidants and nutrients unlike sports drinks. Plus bananas trigger a greater shift in dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in movement and mood (research also indicates that a low dopamine level is linked to obesity). What I’m getting at here is there is far more to fruit than just sugar alone. If you’re active, a moderate amount of fruit sugar will fuel your cells, not fatten them.
Bottom line: With so many benefits, fresh fruit is definitely worth including in your daily diet. But that doesn’t mean you can eat unlimited quantities. For most women, a healthy goal is 2-3 servings of fresh fruit (about the size of a tennis ball) per day. For men, 3-4 servings per day.