A fruit salad bowl is a party of colours. It presents a perfect blend of red from the berries, green from the apples, yellow from the oranges and a touch of white from the banana to balance the entire healthy equation.
Rosie is a physically active 36-year-old lady keen to shed off a couple of kilograms gained in the past five years. She is very active in the gym, putting in 30 mins of High-Intensity Interval Trainings (HIITs) five days a week and clocking 10-kilometre walk at the weekend. Her religious lunchtime meal is a generous bowl of mixed fruits.
Fruit and vegetables have been a cornerstone of healthy dietary recommendations. However, research now shows that a heavy and sustained consumption of fruits with lots of sugar is a barrier to effective weight management and control and reversal of lifestyle conditions like diabetes.
Fruits have a wide range of nutritional and health benefits, and celebrated as good sources of micronutrients such as minerals, vitamins and dietary fibers. These help in improving mental health and preventing condition like heart disease and diabetes. Fruits also take the trophy for enhancing weight loss and reducing the risk of some cancers.
For patients on low carb and Keto diet for weight loss, and/or management of diabetes its essential that they observe and avoid fruits with a high content of sugar in them. Did you know that fruits contain as much sugar as taking an equivalent spoonful of table sugar in the literal sense?
A large orange can have up to 25g of sugar which is equivalent to five teaspoons of sugar, a large banana can also have around 30g of sugar which is equivalent to around six teaspoons of sugar.
Therefore, if you are on a KETO diet, which requires you to maintain a carbohydrate content of less than 30g per day, its recommended to avoid almost all type of fruits. A low carbohydrate diet can allow for one or two small-sized apples or oranges.
The appealing array of blended fruit juices at the local fruits vendor and the supermarket are a concussion of sugar than a healthy alternative to a person conscious about weight management. They work in reverse by adding to your sugar deposit in the body. Mixed/blended/fresh juices made from fruits like the ones found in our mama kiosks, and local supermarkets is all but a concussion of sugar.
Proteins and fats are regarded as essential food classes that we must consume to avoid deficiency. However, carbohydrates including fruits are non-essentials. In fact, the daily carbohydrate needed in our daily meals is ZERO.
All the micronutrients found in fruits including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber can be found in vegetables, proteins and healthy fats. Avoiding or taking very small portions (like raspberries) of fruits in patients with diabetes and overweight/obesity is recommended to control or even put Type 2 diabetes into remission and lose weight respectively.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables daily which translates to a minimum 400g per day to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Some fruits contain high sugar content especially when consumed in large quantities. This can negatively affect weight loss, reversing the trend of an intended lifestyle change including diabetes management.
For example, 120g of banana contains 30grams of carbohydrates which is six teaspoons of sugar. 100g of grapes contains 16 grams of carbohydrates which is four teaspoons of sugar.
On the other end of the spectrum fruits regarded as having low carbohydrate content include 100g of raspberry, blackberry, strawberry and lemon contain about 5g (one teaspoon of sugar) each.
Public health education among both the general public and health workers will go a long way in fighting the obesity pandemic that has slowly crept into our households and sits squarely on our plates unashamedly.
-Dr Daniel Katambo is a physician