Why does fruit receive such a bad wrap from fitness enthusiasts, some nutritionists and the general population?
Sugar is the reason which underpins the negativity towards fruit.
"That Sugar Film" along with many other health documentaries and guidelines helped put sugar on the health agenda as well as educating people about the destructiveness of refined sugar. However, "That Sugar Film" filmmaker Damon Gameau says some of its key messages have been misinterpreted and taken too literally.
"We were trying to say, just be aware, learn to read a label and empower yourselves, take charge of your food again instead of just believing the myriad of misleading messages that are often put out there by the food industry and various PR and marketing stunts." - Damon Gameau
This statement encapsulates the issues with our current society’s over consumption of processed packaged foods. The sugars found in these foods come in abundance, are over refined and fail to provide us with the vitamins and minerals found in natural sugar sources, like fruit and vegetables.
Sugar is hidden in these foods in many different ways. Using different names such as dextrose, fructose, galactose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose help disguise sugar in foods. The use of healthier syrup sugars like maple, agave, cane, and coconut sugar are, although healthier through being less refined, still a non-nutritional sugar. Adding health claims to food packaging like low-fat, light, high protein and gluten free often are used to help disguise the high sugar content remaining in the product. An easy way to avoid all this over processed, non-nutritional sugar is to avoid packaged, processed foods and stick to whole foods, abundant in nutritional qualities.
Sugary, sweet and delicious foods still exist out of a packet and these are natures candy, aka fruit. Although fruits, and vegetables, contain naturally occurring sugar, they aren't of health concern because they contain high amounts of natural fibre, and antioxidants which mitigate rises in blood sugar as well as being rich in vitamins and minerals.
Fruit however became entangled in this umbrella term of sugar just because it contains fructose.
So, when thinking about a fruit, vegetables or packaged sweets, or even homemade cakes, it’s not just the sugar which matters. It is about what that food provides you, so here are a few questions to help;
- What nutrients does it provide?
- Is this food offering my body vitamins, minerals and fibre?
- How much energy does it provide?
- Is it the right amount of energy (too little or too much) for me?
- Is this food easy to overeat or am I likely to feel full when I’ve eaten enough?
- Where does this food sit in the context of my whole day?
Eating a punnet of strawberries as opposed to a packet of skittles are two very different things. The strawberries will satiate you and leave you nourished, however the skittles can be eaten mindlessly all day with no filling or nourishing qualities. Both these food create very different insulin responses within the body as well as health benefits and consequences.
Every single day I eat around 1kg of fruit. These include fruits such as berries, bananas, apples, melons. The moral of the story is to not demonise fruit. Start appreciating the energy it can provide you, along with how well it nourishes your body. 1kg of fruit as opposed to a few cakes and biscuits and a glass or two of wine are two very different things. The natural whole foods provide your body with extractable healthy nutrients whereas the other processed foods are often consumed because of the taste.
- Braithwaite, A. (30 March 2017) ‘I Never Wanted to Demonise Sugar’: Damon Gameau, retrieved 3 August 2019 from SBS: https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2017/03/30/i-never-wanted-demonise-sugar-damon-gameau
- Food Insight (2 March 2017) Ditching Fruit Because of its Sugar Content? That’s Bananas!, retrieved 14 June 2019 from Food Insight: https://foodinsight.org/ditching-fruit-because-of-its-sugar-content-thats-bananas/
- Freeman, K. (9 November 2016) Why We Shouldn’t Demonise Sugar, retrieved 16 September 2019 from https://www.healthyeatinghub.com.au/demonise-sugar/
- West, H. (9 April 2019) 8 Ways Food Companies Hide the Sugar Content of Foods, retrieved 15 August 2019 from Health Line: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-ways-sugar-is-hidden#section6
- University of Leeds (5 Feburary 2019) Fruit and Vegetables may be Important for Mental as well as Physical Well-Being, retrieved 17 July from Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190205144450.htm