Sales figures released by a leading supermarket earlier this year suggest that fruit is replacing veg in our shopping baskets – blueberry sales have soared by 53%, overtaking produce like potatoes and broccoli, and we spent a total of £604 million on grapes in 2017, making them our best-loved fruit. And why not? Fruit is an easier way to reach our five-a-day than with maybe not so inviting vegetables. It contains nutritious superstars like fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. Well maybe it’s because fruit is high in a sugar known as fructose, and even though it’s coming from a seemingly healthy source, it’s still sugar and the body cannot distinguish between the sugar found in table sugar (a mix of glucose and fructose) and the sugar found in fruit. As we all know we are being advised to cut down our intake of sugar, the recommended daily amount is about 30g.
Experts are worried that we seem to be constantly snacking, and often these snacks are in the form of fruit, the thinking being – this must be healthy its fruit! Well it may be healthier than say a chocolate bar but still naturally quite sugary and so can raise your blood sugar levels which is a concern to anyone with high blood sugar, or who is trying to lose weight.
There are experts coming from the other direction saying that as a nation, the UK has a low consumption of daily vegetables and fruit, so any increase whether fruit or vegetable would be an improvement.
So maybe it would be better to increase our intake of vegetables and limit our fruit to the lower in sugar ones. Grapes, bananas and mangos are high on the sugar list, whereas berries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are in the low sugar, high in nutrients group.
And don’t forget that fruit juice is not a great option, a 200ml glass is equal to 4 teaspoons of sugar and the process of turning fruit into juice loses the insoluble fibre, which is an essential nutrient and helps delay absorption of the sugar. Take the fibre away and you’re just drinking sugar and calories. Although it does count as one of your daily fruit/vegetable intakes, it only counts once no matter how many glasses you drink. Water is probably a better option and have your fruit whole.
This doesn’t mean never eating another banana, or piece of juicy pineapple, but maybe keep these for occasional treats. If you feel the urge to snack, keep some chopped carrot sticks and cucumbers in the fridge, nibble on these.