For years, people have grown up with the food pyramid that extolled the virtues of eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Fruits and vegetables have many benefits including:
- Providing antioxidants and valuable vitamins and minerals to our diets
- Filling us with fiber
- Giving us energy with natural sugars
- Reducing the risk of diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease
But while fruits and vegetables are good for us, there have been some problems with overeating of fruits. You see, while the food pyramid often doesn’t differentiate between fruits and vegetables, there is a big difference. Namely, fruits contain natural sugars that not only provide us with energy, they also provide us with an overabundance of calories, which leads to weight gain.
You mean fruit can make me fat?
Actually, yes, eating too much fruit does lead to weight gain which can make a person fat. Calories are calories and the body cannot differentiate between 65 calories of potato chips and 65 calories of fruit. Logically, the next question would be, “Then why don’t I just eat chips?”
Fruits do contain many nutritional benefits that chips don’t. They are packed with vitamins, such as Vitamin A and C, they contain potassium, which is necessary for good heart health, and they contain antioxidants which fight the effects of aging and fight free radicals. Chips on the other hand, contain no nutritional benefits at all.
The average person should consume around two servings of fruit per day, according to the CDC. It’s the manner in which the fruit is consumed that can make a difference. Obviously, consuming the whole fruit, fresh off the tree or bush, is going to give you the most benefits. Usually the skin of a fruit is packed with fiber and vitamins, which help you feel full.
Fruit cups are often thought of as a good way to get fruit into the diet. However, not all fruit cups are created equal. Fruit that has been packed in syrup contains over four times the number of calories as natural, whole fruits. You may as well be downing a half cup of sugar when you eat fruit packed in syrup.
Bad Fruit Choices:
- Fruit leathers and fruit snacks. These actually have very little fruit in them. They are usually sugar-enriched gelatin with a small amount of fruit puree and juice. A single serving of fruit snacks contains 80 calories and is not filling. A medium apple also contains 80 calories. The fruit and skin of the apple contain more vitamins, more minerals, more fiber, and will be more filling.
- Fruit in cakes and cookies. Eating a cherry pie is no way to get your fruit. A single serving of cherry pie contains around 390 calories and 16.5 grams of fat. A one cup serving of pitted cherries provides 90 calories, no fat, and is high in both dietary fiber and Vitamin C.
- Fruit juice. While getting your fruit benefits through fruit juice is better than not getting them at all, it is never a wise idea to drink your calories. It won’t fill you up and it’s easier to drink more than you need. There are 112 calories in a single 8oz serving of orange juice. There are 71 calories in a medium orange.
Overindulging in fruit that’s no longer in its natural, unadulterated form, can make you fat. When eaten in proper portions and eaten in a proper form, fruit can help you lose weight, it can give you energy, and it can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
Remember, to lose weight, a person must use more calories than are taken in. Substitute fruits for candy, chips, pasta, and other high calorie foods.
Five a Day