DODGING fruit because you think its high in sugar? You could be doing your health a disservice.
Experts fear mixed messages coming via social media from people untrained to dish out health advice could be giving fruit a bad name.
So is the sugar contained in fruit bad, should it be avoided and are certain varieties better than others?
The answer is no, according to Nutrition Australia Victorian executive officer Lucinda Hancock.
“The sugar which occurs in fruits is naturally occurring, it’s not an added sugar and that’s important because it gives us the energy which we need,” she said.
“In addition to that is the fact that fruit is very high in vitamin C, a source of vitamin A, a really good source of fibre and very high in antioxidants.
“These nutrients are really, really important in order to be healthy and to prevent risk of heart disease and stroke and other unhealthy eating behaviour problems.”
A diet containing a wide variety of food, including the recommended two serves of fruit a day, is vital for weight management and health, Ms Hancock says.
But just over half of Australians (54%) eat enough to meet the recommended serves, according to the Australian Health Survey released last year.
“I do think there is a bit of a negativity around fruit consumption because of the sugar,” Ms Hancock said.
“We’re consuming way too much processed food which has all the added sugar.
“We need to be focusing on reducing our consumption of processed foods and eating less processed foods, and more fruit, to get all the benefits as well as energy.”
Ms Hancock was reluctant to recommend one fruit over another.
“We’re just supportive of having a variety, there’s definitely not one grouping that’s better than another,” she said.
“The key message is that we should be consuming two pieces of fruit and looking at whatever’s in season at the time because then that would be of a cost benefit too.
“They are all packed with nutrients that are vital to our health.”
Ms Hancock said it is concerning that information about the nutritional benefits of fruit is being drowned out by diet recommendations that are not based on evidence.
“There’s a lot of conversation in the health space at the moment from people who aren’t necessarily trained to deliver health messages,” she said.
“There’s so much information available and I think there’s a lot of mixed messages too and I think that causes a little bit of confusion.
“It’s something which is concerning for all nutrition professionals at the moment.
“What we are trying to focus on is to make some more noise in that space ourselves so we can get those proper evidence-based recommendations out there.”
WHERE TO START? THESE ARE THE TOP 10 IN-SEASON FRUITS TO EAT RIGHT NOW
WE all know that we need two serves of fruit a day, but where possible it’s good to choose
fruits that are in season, given they are fresher, tastier, have not travelled too far and are
usually cheaper. Here are 10 fruits in season right now which Nutrtition Australia recommends.
This common and versatile fruit contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that
may help lower the risk of developing diabetes and asthma. They are a good source of
dietary fibre, particularly in their skin, which helps prevent the absorption of dietary-LDL, or
‘bad’, cholesterol in the blood. So stay away from the peeler, even when you stew them.
This delicious, creamy fruit is a rich source of mono-unsaturated fats. These fats not only help lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease, but have also been shown to improve the absorption of carotenoids, found in avocadoes themselves and also orange-yellow vegetables. Shepard avocados have just come into season and are a great addition to a salad or sandwich, particularly instead of a saturated fat spread such as butter.
Banana are known as a good source of potassium, which is important in the regulation
of heart rate and blood pressure. Bananas also have nearly five times the folate of apples. It is
also the best fruit source of vitamin B6, which helps with neurotransmitter production,
including feel-good serotonin.
These little tasty pockets of flavour are also a good source of calcium, with four times
the calcium of bananas in one large, fresh fig. They have a relatively large amount of vitamin
K for their size — an important fat-soluble vitamin for blood clotting and bone strength. They
are also very adaptable, with the availability to have dried figs all year round.
All citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C, and this is no exception. Grapefruit
helps reduce the incidence and/or severity of cold symptoms, and also helps reduce the severity of inflammatory conditions. The rich colours of pink and red grapefruit are due to its high
doses of lycopene, which works to fight free radicals (compounds that can damage cells). It is
also rich in vitamin A — important for growth and development, the immune system, and
They may be little but they are packed with vitamin K, essential for blood
clotting and bone strength. They are also a good source of B vitamins — thiamine (an
essential nutrient people must obtain from their diet) and riboflavin — both involved in
energy production, as well as RNA and DNA production and nerve function. More recently,
grapes have been investigated for their suspected role in longevity.
As a member of the citrus fruit family, it is known as the go-to for vitamin C intake.
However, it also has a high level of calcium, an essential mineral for bone strength and muscle
function, and thiamine. Eating an orange will be much more beneficial than a glass of orange juice, as it provides you with necessary fibre and a lot less sugar than the juice alone.
A great source of dietary fibre, once again especially in the skin. But that’s not the
only benefit of ditching the peeler — the skin of pears has been shown to contain at least
three to four times more phenolic phytonutrients than the flesh, including potentially anti-
cancer phytonutrients. In addition, flavonoids found in pears have been linked to
improved insulin sensitivity and a decrease in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
While oranges are seen as the go-to for vitamin C, the humble little strawberry
also has a huge concentration of the vitamin, improving a person’s resistance to infection
and inflammation. A cup of strawberries will give you more vitamin C than an orange, and
100g will provide about 98 per cent of the recommended dietary intake. Its high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals have been shown to have benefits against cancer, ageing, inflammation and neurological diseases.
Although often thought of as a vegetable, this brightly colour fruit is a great
source of the phytochemical lycopene. Lycopene is found in most red-coloured foods, but is
present in tomatoes whether they are dark red or orange and tangerine-coloured. The
consumption of lycopene is thought to lower cancer and heart disease risk, and more
recently it has been shown to have a link with bone health. Both tomato extracts and fresh
tomatoes have been shown to lower cholesterol, and triglycerides, which are a type of fat found in your blood. Tomatoes are thought to reduce the risk of heart problems.
Original article can be found here