Insider’s Viewpoint: Fruit & Sugar: Natural vs Added Sugars – Don’t Avoid Nutrient-Packed Fruit
Yes fruit does contain sugar, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Fruit has a lot to offer nutritionally! The fiber in fruit helps you maintain healthy gut bacteria, slows the release of fructose (fruit sugar) and keeps you full. Plus, fruit is loaded with vitamins and minerals essential for your body to function properly.
Since fruit contains fructose—a naturally occurring sugar— it’s sometimes wrongly lumped into groups of food to limit or avoid. Yes, it’s true that consuming too much added sugar can contribute to weight gain. Added sugar has also been linked to other health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. But, there is a difference between natural and added sugar. The new nutrition facts label will help shoppers differentiate between natural and added sugar. These new labels are already starting to appear on shelves, so keep an eye out for them!
One more reason to enjoy fruit—it tastes delicious! Summer is when many fruits reach peak flavor. If you’re bored with the same old fruits, try something new—like dragon fruit, gooseberries, or kumquats … just to name a few. I just recently tried gooseberries and now they’re a mainstay in my fridge! Worried about your budget? Frozen and canned fruit contain the same great nutrition as fresh! Just be sure to check the ingredients for add-ons like sugar.
My recommendation? Eat a variety of fruits (and veggies!) to get the greatest nutrition benefit, since each fruit contains different nutrients. Get creative! I love freezing grapes and enjoying them on a hot summer day, or spreading apple slices with nut butter and coconut flakes for an easy (and pretty!) snack.
We eat with our eyes first, and the recipe below for Watermelon Pizza is a great way to get excited about incorporating new fruits into your day! And if you’re trying to get your kids to eat something new, it’s helpful to pair something new with something familiar. For example, in this recipe, something familiar (watermelon) is paired with something less familiar to many (kiwi). You can add any fruit you like to this watermelon pizza; it’s the perfect snack for a hot summer day!
- 1 watermelon
- 3 kiwis
- 2 nectarines
- ½ lemon
- 2 bananas
- 2 cups blueberries
- Slice off the ends of the watermelon to create flat edges. Set the watermelon on a cutting board and cut into 4 round slices about 1-inch thick. Cut the rounds into 6 “pizza” slices each.
- Peel and slice the kiwis and cut the nectarines into slices. Juice the lemon. Chop the bananas into small disks and cover in lemon juice to avoid browning.
- Decorate the watermelon slices with sliced fruit and blueberries.
Recipe courtesy of GiantFood.com
Marissa Donovan, MS, RD, LND
In-Store Nutritionist, Giant Food