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Q: I know I should be getting in a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. But don’t fruits contain a lot of sugar?
A: Sure fruits contain sugars and more so than most of your vegetables.
Although these are natural sugars packaged naturally with beneficial phytonutrients
(antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber…), it still is wise to be aware of your intake.
Hence just because apples contain phytonutrients that power immunity heart health
and cancer preventative qualities (and even anti-aging)
doesn’t mean you should be consuming 5 large apples a day.
You need a balance of nutrients and these include nutrients from a variety of sources
including whole-grains, lean proteins, leafy greens and even (healthy) fats.
As I’ve noted in my article: Sugar, A Weighty Issue, certain fruits
(and depending on size/amount) can contain a lot of natural sugars
(and even high amounts of fructosecan cause damage).
One large orange may contain as much as 17g of sugar.
Instead opt for one or two Clementines (tangerines) which are much smaller,
just as sweet (if not sweeter) and contain only 5-7g sugar per fruit.
The same goes for apples. One large apple contains as much as 22g of sugar.
If you opt for a mini apple, you may reduce your sugar intake by 2/3.
You can even add a loose handful of almonds (up to 10) a good source of Vitamin E,
magnesium and stress-reducing tryptophan, but also contains healthy fat that can help curb your hunger.
What about berries? Low in calories and a delight to the taste buds (the bead-sized morsels allow for better distribution of flavor across the tongue, thus less needed to satisfy), you can enjoy 3/4 of a cup of blueberries (approx. 60 calories) and still limit your sugar intake to 11g. Is 11g too much for one serving? Not really if you regulate your intake of other sugars throughout the day. And, remember, berries are nutrient “superstars” with excellent cancer-fighting potential.
Consider 1/2 cup blueberries (7g sugar) in your morning cereal and then 1 clementine for a snack, together just under 15g sugar. But even 2 TBS of blueberries can be just enough to provide added texture and sweetness. And if you limit your processed foods and enjoy whole grains (ie: 1/2 cup serving brown rice), try to add-in plenty of vegetables
(especially leafy greens) which add little to no sugars, lean meats and a little healthy fat, you’ll be just fine.
So consider going small. Enjoy mini apples, Clementines and look for mini pears
or cut your larger fruits in half (ie: half a banana, half a large apple),
but be sure to store properly to reduce oxidation and keep it fresh and appealing for later consumption.
Lauren O’Connor, MS, RD