5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day – that’s the current government guideline in the UK, and it’s actually pretty low when compared to some other countries. In Canada and Japan, for example, it’s recommended that 7 portions of fruit and veg are consumed each day, and France advises its residents to eat at least 10 portions. Fresh fruit is packed full of vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants which work to keep us healthy, but could too much fruit actually be damaging our bodies… and our waistlines?
The good news is that whole fruit does not contain ‘free’ sugars. ‘Free’ sugars are described as being either added sugars in fizzy drinks or sweets, for example, or sugars in blended fruits (like smoothies) which have been released during the process. These ‘free’ sugars can increase the risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. However, the sugars in whole fruits aren’t completely guilt-free, either. In fact, the sugars in a medium banana contain almost as many calories as the sugars in a chocolate bar!
Naturally Occurring Sugars
Have a bite of an orange or a peach – they’re very sweet. This is because they contain naturally occurring sugars. While these sugars, when still inside the whole fruit, may not be as damaging for your health as ‘free’ sugars, they may still pose a risk. Cherries, honeydew melon, kiwis and oranges are some of the fruits with the highest amounts of naturally occurring sugars which can not only wreak havoc on the waistline, but could also contribute towards tooth decay; raisins and other dried fruits are potential causes of dental problems, due in part to their stickiness.
Despite this, fruits are still an important part of every diet. It’s best to swap fruit juices, smoothies, and dried fruits for whole fruits that are lower in sugar. Berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, tend to have a slightly lower sugar content than fruits like apples and mangoes, for example. Citrus fruits like lemons and limes are also very low in sugar, and while they may not taste too good on their own, they’re excellent sliced and added to a cold glass of water.
Finding the Balance
It’s important not to cut out fruit from your diet completely, but if you’re concerned about what these naturally occurring sugars could be doing to your body, you may wish to cut down on your fruit consumption, and start eating more fresh vegetables instead. It’s about finding the right balance for you. However, one worry about cutting down on fresh fruit intake is that you may struggle to meet the recommended daily allowances for essential vitamins and minerals that work to keep you healthy.
Fortunately, it is possible to boost your diet with these vitamins and minerals through food supplement tablets. These help you to replace any essential nutrients that you may be losing when cutting down on fresh fruit intake. Fruit is an excellent source of folate (which reduces the risk of anaemia), Vitamin C (which is essential for strong bones), and potassium (which is good for heart health), so multivitamins that contain these nutrients can be used to complement your daily diet.