Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You Are The Apple Of My Eye

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
-Martin Luther
Americans have been told to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day but we aren't listening. Only 56% of adults say that they eat five servings or more at least four days of every week. And to make matters worse the advice itself may be flawed or misapplied.

Most (all?) fruits are forbidden on low carb diets. Yes fruits come packed with vitamins and minerals which do the body more good when eaten naturally than when swallowed in pill form. But after thousands of years of cross-breeding, many fruits we eat are now loaded with fruit sugar (fructose). Sweeter fruit tastes "better"; personally I much prefer a sweet Gala apple to a tart Granny Smith. Fruits with a high fructose load include apple, pear, guava, honeydew melon, pawpaw, papaya, quince, star fruit, watermelon, grapes, raisins, figs, dates, and currants. Oranges (to my surprise) get a favorable rating with fructose equal to or less than the glucose.

According to ScienceDaily.com,
"There's a fair amount of evidence that starch-based foods don't cause weight gain like sugar-based foods and don't cause the metabolic syndrome like sugar-based foods," said Dr. Richard Johnson, the senior author of the report, which reviewed several recent studies on fructose and obesity. "Potatoes, pasta, rice may be relatively safe compared to table sugar. A fructose index may be a better way to assess the risk of carbohydrates related to obesity. ...  fructose may have the unique ability to induce insulin resistance and features of the metabolic syndrome that other foods don't do so easily"
Another factor to keep in mind is that fruit (in moderation) should be eaten, not drunk. A serving size of juice is 6 oz, the size of a martini glass or small wine glass. A large dixie cup is 5oz. Many people feel cheated when given such a small glass of juice and receive instead a 10oz or larger sized glass. A coffee mug holds 12-16 oz. It's way too easy to swallow the juice (and calories) of an entire orange in just a few swallows and still want more. Most fruit juice contains no pulp so instead of satisfying hunger, the sugar in the juice spikes hunger and does little to satisfy it. Beware also of "fruit drinks" which are mostly fruit flavored sugar water.

Bottom Line

Advertisers have been quite successful in selling fruit as healthy. But it turns out you can get higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals in vegetables with much less sugar load. Tomorrow I'll look at ways to encourage more vegetables in the diet.

P.S.
Here's an interesting article on a study about why sugar makes us fat (and sleepy)
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/12/why-sugar-makes-us-sleepy-and-protein-wakes-us-up/

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