Fruits are an important and healthy part of your diet. But is it possible that you’re eating too much fruit?
“You should eat more fruits and vegetables.” This a popular health recommendation which is dished out by nutritional experts and laypeople alike. We’re not, however, disputing the validity of such advice. We all know that fruits and vegetables are loaded with a myriad of vitamins and minerals and you can’t go wrong with having more of them in your diet, right? Nope. Apparently, there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Fruits are full of fructose, a form of sugar. Too much sugar, regardless of its source, can have negative effects on your health. It can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and increased triglyceride levels (which may contribute to heart disease and high cholesterol). High consumption of fructose, especially, has been linked to increased belly fat, slowed metabolism, and overall weight gain. What this means is that if you’re hoping to lose weight, you might want to reconsider guzzling fruit smoothies!
How much sugar is too much? Nutritionists usually recommend no more than 26 grams of sugar per day for women, or 36 grams per day for men. Depending on the type of fruit, this could be bad news for fruit lovers. You can easily exceed the recommended daily sugar consumption with serving of fructose-loaded fruit such as bananas, mangoes, or grapes. For instance, two cups of sliced bananas add up to 36 grams of sugar- which exceeds the daily limit for women.
This is bad news, especially when you realise that most of us tend to consider fruits as “freebie calories” and fail to tally them as part of our daily calorie allocation. When you indulge in a cookie, you’re likely to feel guilty and compensate by working out more or eating less later. But when you indulge in a fruit smoothie, chances are you won’t make the same adjustments.
If you’re eating fruit salads and drinking fruit smoothies every day, these “freebie calories” can quickly add up and frustrate your weight loss goals. Remember, a fruit serving is just half a cup of chopped fresh fruit, a quarter cup dried fruit, or half a cup of fruit juice. Nutritionists recommend that an adult should eat only two cups of fruit per day. However, a normal-sized container of fruit salad can easily pack several serving sizes- and more than 300 calories. Indeed, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that dieters who increased their fruit intake didn’t lose a significant amount of weight.
Juice Is Not A Fruit
One-way people end up eating too much fruit is through juices and smoothies. As mentioned above, a serving of fruit juice is just half a cup. Because of its liquid form, juice hits the bloodstream quicker- leading to sugar spikes. Also, without fruit skin, your body will miss out on the fibre which keeps you full for longer and regulates your sugar levels. Since they are blended with skins intact smoothies are a better option. But be wary- you can pack a lot of fruit into one small glass of smoothie.
Time for A Cut
It’s highly unlikely that eating too much fruit will cause you serious health complications- except in extreme cases. Fruitarians (people who get around 75% of their daily calorie intake from fruit), should consider the risk of pancreatic issues and increased triglyceride levels which can lead to high cholesterol levels and heart disease.
However, if you’re healthy and active and have a generally balanced healthy diet, there’s no need to fear fruit. You probably need to cut down your fruit consumption if you’re experiencing bloating, you have diarrhoea or IBS, have trouble losing weight, have unexplained fatigue, or have high blood sugar levels.
If you’re trying to lose weight, stick with one cup of fruit (or one piece of fruit) a day. In your smoothies, opt for low-sugar fruits like berries and apples, combine them with nuts, protein powder, non-starchy veggies, or chia seeds. Note that vegetables are more nutrient-dense than fruits and come with less sugars and carbohydrates. In conclusion, we’re not saying don’t eat fruit- only be more mindful with your fruit portions.