Sugar has been demonized quite a bit in the past couple of decades, and let’s face it, excess sugar in any diet can lead to a host of health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and aside from health concerns can pack on unwanted “vanity pounds.” So we know better than to down entire packages of gummy bears and wash it down with soda, but what about fruit? Isn’t fruit “healthy?” Haven’t we been told to eat “5-9 servings of fruits and veggies daily?” Let’s take a look at this recommendation, shall we?
Unfortunately, a serving of fruit is going to contain a considerable amount of sugar, albeit natural sugar, but still, it’s sugar. Why we like fruit is because aside from the sugar, which of course gives fruit it’s naturally sweet taste, natural whole fruits have fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In fact, a one cup serving of berries has 45% of the daily value of vitamin C along with 5 grams of fiber, and one medium orange has a whopping 140% of the daily value of vitamin C along with 3 grams of fiber. We run into trouble when we overdo it on fruit, like when we jam-pack it into smoothies or over-snack on it or chug glasses of fruit juice. Contrary to some diet programs out there that have classified fruit as a “free food” it unfortunately should not be viewed that way. What’s a fruit-loving gal or guy to do? Our old pal moderation comes into play yet again! Fruits can be enjoyed in moderation, and a good number to aim for is a maximum of 2-3 servings of fruit daily. Some examples of a serving of fruit are: 1 cup of berries or melon, one baseball sized orange or apple, ½ a grapefruit, 4 oz of 100% fruit juice, ¼ cup of non-packed dried fruit. But remember, you don’t need to have a whole serving, even a half cup (versus a whole) of berries or 1/3 of a banana can sweeten up a smoothie or protein shake. This fruit nutrition database from Fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org is a great resource to see just how much sugar is in each serving of your favorite fruits!
So where are those remaining 2-6 servings of fruits and veggies coming from? Non-starchy veggies are where it’s at! Minimal calories, fiber, lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! Check out the rundown on non-starchy veggies here!