When trying to drop a few pounds, many of us turn to fruit to help satisfy cravings for sweets. Fruits contain significant doses of fiber, vitamins and minerals – making hitting the fruit bowl a seemingly healthy choice. Fruit has many important health benefits that make it an important part of a person’s daily diet. But is too much fruit actually sabotaging your weight loss efforts?
Fruit is high in fructose, a simple sugar, and carbohydrates, which are two things that need to be consumed in moderation in order for a person to lose weight. Eating too much fructose can cause a spike in insulin levels – and the body has a hard time burning fat while insulin levels are elevated.
Fructose is processed by the liver and is often stored in the body as fat so it can be used for energy at a later time. People who are diabetic or trying to lose weight needs to be mindful of how much sugar - including fructose - they consume.
A study by the Produce for Better Health Foundation shows that the average American consumes less than one cup of fruit per day. For people who are not trying to lose weight, fructose levels are usually not a problem – especially when a person’s fruit intake is so low. However, for the two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese, unlimited fruit consumption could make it difficult for them to lose weight.
Unfortunately, fruit isn’t the only source of fructose for most Americans. Natural fructose is found in fruit juice and natural sweeteners such as honey and agave. More and more processed foods are being sweetened with fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup. This simple sugar can lurk in juice, breakfast cereals, condiments and even bread and yogurt. The only way to avoid it is to avoid processed food as much as possible and always read labels.
If you suspect excess fruit consumption may be causing you to gain weight, limit your daily servings and choose your fruits wisely. Darker fruits give you the best bang for your buck. Dark fruits usually have a thin skin and produce more antioxidants than light-colored, thick-skinned fruits. Furthermore, blueberries, cranberries and raspberries, have been found to decrease glucose response and slow digestion. When added to high-glycemic foods, berries rich in polyphenols can help the body produce a lower insulin response, curbing sugar spikes and crashes.
If you’re trying to lose weight or are concerned about your metabolism, limit your fruit intake to one or two servings a day. Stick with berries and green apples as often as possible and save sweeter fruits such as mangos, cherries and dried fruits for once-in-a-while treats.