Can an apple actually keep illness at bay? Is fruit deemed forbidden on a low carb diet? Do fruit sugars contribute to love handles?
These legit concerns have piqued some ripe controversy, along with our curiosity to dig a little deeper into the core of the fruit debacle.
First, let’s take a brief flashback to grade 11 biochem (the chalkboard – not the bangs, braces or cute science teacher)
Let’s Talk Fruit Sugars. Fructose = a Unit of Sugar Found in Fruit
Chemically speaking, fruit has a similar structure to table sugar (a.k.a. sucrose). They’re both made up of carbohydrates, or simple sugar building blocks called glucose AND fructose. Simply put, our stellar liver takes care of fructose, where it gets broken down, burned up or stored for energy.
We’d need to gorge on a bushel of sweet fruit to overload our livers, but isolated fructose is also found in stealth hiding places like packaged snacks (high fructose corn syrup), salad dressings, jams, energy bars, cereals and sweeteners – even agave syrup.
Science also tells us that fructose on its own is in fact sweeter than table sugar. Are you ose-d out yet? Alas, too much sugar can trigger sweet tooth cravings and excess indulging, which leads to more junk in the trunk. As Dr. Mark Hyman puts it, sugar is the new fat.
Here’s Where the Fruit Refining Process Gets Icky
Props to Mother Nature, sugar cane in its whole form contains chromium – an essential micromineral that regulates insulin and blood sugar balance. But on average, nearly all of chromium is lost in the refining process of sugar cane into table sugar. Same goes for the nutrient robbery in concentrated fruit juices, ‘natural’ fruit flavours and tropical fruity cocktail mixes.
We all know that too much of a sweet thing can spiral into a toxic slew of health woes, from tooth decay to blood sugar yoyo-ing, metabolic imbalances, liver overload, headaches, mood swings and inflammation.
Eliminating fruit altogether may not solve the root issue here; instead we might consider shifting the lens and upgrading our overall diet and lifestyle picture. Like moving our butts and eatin’ clean.
So What Makes a Real Piece of Fruit Worthy of Genuine Health Praise?
The beauty of whole fresh fruit is found in Mother Nature’s pristine packaging of fiber, water, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and anti-aging phytonutrients (ie. health-boosting plant compounds). Just by taking a juicy bite of pineapple, we get easy access to the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain. Adding goji berries to trail mix or smoothies will seriously up the antioxidants.
Without these critical assets, fruit would be devoid of nutrients. Even more startling, it would have an uncanny resemblance to table sugar.
The Balancing Act Between Fruit and Blood Sugar Levels…
Thanks to the higher ratio of fibre and water to fruit sugars, some fruits pack a softer punch on blood sugar levels, like berries, apples and pears. Others have super healing powers, although are naturally higher in fruit sugars (grapes, mango, pineapple, papaya, dates, melon). This is where mindful moderation whispers its virtuous voice of reason.
Can We Thrive on Fruit Alone?
Despite a fruitarian diet being the alleged impetus behind the naming of Apple Inc., solely eating fruit won’t fulfill the body’s healthy protein and fat needs.
Although, integrating a balance of whole fruits into our diets can help keep vitamin and mineral stores up to snuff, regulate our internal plumbing and neutralize toxins.
So go slice that local organic apple and feel damn good about it.