I’m challenging you this month to replace processed sugar and sweet treats with fruit! Many people equate fruit with white sugar, claiming it to be just as bad. THIS ISN’T TRUE! I’m regularly told, “I’m skipping fruit and sugar as part of my diet plan,” as if it’s the same thing. If you are someone who thinks this, please keep reading!
I saw an ad on Youtube naming the top three “worst fruits.” It said something like, “Most people think bananas are great because they are high in potassium, magnesium, and fiber. But they are also high in sugar!” It’s ironic that they were defaming bananas while also giving a list of their health benefits. Sugar in fruit does have the same molecular structure as white sugar, but it isn’t absorbed into the bloodstream as fast. Positive qualities of fruit, like a banana’s fiber for example, actually change the way the body processes the sugar. Bananas are a higher source of carbohydrate than most fruits but have other molecular factors that still make them beneficial to our health. In fact, less ripe bananas contain resistant starch that slows digestion lowers blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity, reduces appetite, and promotes healthy digestion in other ways.
Moderation in everything is necessary, and too much of anything is bad, including bananas. Because I’m trying to watch my weight, I tend to eat less higher-carb fruits. I might only have half of a banana unless it’s on the greener side; then I eat the whole thing. But please, don’t skip any fruit entirely!
White sugar has been taken from a plant and stripped of all other nutrients. This removal changes the way it’s processed in the body. After being stripped, the sugar is left in a concentrated form, without the bulk and volume that comes from fiber. Just fiber alone could make a big difference in how the sugars from fruit are processed in our body. The fiber helps slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream so less insulin is needed at one time, helping us to stay out of fat-making mode. It also helps our body feed the healthy bacteria in our gut. The type of bacteria in your gut makes a huge difference to your weight and health, so we want it to be the good kind and not the bad! Fruit is hugely important for promoting good gut bacteria.
Fruit in its whole form has thousands of phytochemicals that processed sugar doesn’t have. For instance, an apple has over 10,000 phytochemicals! The phytochemicals in fruit (sometimes referred to as phytonutrients) are powerful: a plant’s natural defense against famine and disease helps protect people against disease too! Certain phytochemicals known as anthocyanins, found in deep red, blue, and purple foods, protect cells in our body from damage. Interestingly enough, the anthocyanins have also been shown to keep blood sugar levels lower by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down the sugar in the food.
A daily dose of these valuable, deep-colored phytochemicals appears to decrease inflammation inside our bodies too. Some studies report that these anthocyanins help fend off an array of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. These are just a few examples of the nutritious benefits of fruit, but there are thousands of other nutrients in fruits that benefit our health and weight.
Fruit Instead of Processed Sugar
Americans don’t eat enough fruit, so don’t cut it out of your diet in an attempt to limit your sugar intake! Sugar itself isn’t toxic, but eating too much of it from processed sweets is the number one cause of obesity. If sweets made with processed sugar were replaced by fruit, we wouldn’t have an obesity problem in this country.
Do your body a favor and eat whole fruit instead of sugar. Try to avoid processed sugar for a couple of weeks. See how by even eating fruit, you crave less sugar and processed foods. Join me this month in doing Fix #1 of my 12-Fix Wellness Plan to replace sugar, white flour, processed foods with whole foods. Then continue to ADD another Fix each month with me! Pick up the book, 12 Fixes to Healthy, to use as a manual. My posts on my website, FoodsWithJudes.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @FoodsWithJudes will also help in adapting this 12-Fix Wellness Plan to your life, so go give them a follow!
Judith (aka Judes) Scharman Draughon, MS, RDN, LD is a registered, licensed dietitian nutritionist, author of 12 Fixes to Health: A Wellness Plan for Life, as well as a corporate wellness speaker. Judes inspires many with her high-energy nutrition presentations, workshops, and seminars throughout the county. She is known as “Foods With Judes.”
Judes is passionate about her quest to empower people to make small changes that make a big difference. She can’t wait to empower you!
Contributor: Ray Norton