All Fruit Is Not Created Equal

Fruit Benefits

The health benefits of fruit is often questioned. Many nutrition guidelines group fruit and vegetables together which is part of the problem. Some experts recommend limiting fruit due to the sugar content while other outliers recommend consuming nothing but fruit. Like most nutrition recommendations the correct answer usually falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes and always depends on the individual. But you can always optimize your fruit choices by:

  • Consume whole fruits not fruit juice

  • Consume fruits with less sugar using the glycemic index and glycemic load as a reference

  • Choose fruits with the most nutrients per calorie

  • Choose fruits shown to be less contaminated with pesticides

  • Consume organic and local fruits when you have the opportunity

Does Fruit Contain Too Much Sugar?

You often hear of sugar being the primary reason to eliminate or reduce fruit consumption. Rather than look at how much sugar a particular fruit contains a better marker is the glycemic load. Glycemic load, which was developed by Harvard University Scientists. Not to be confused with the glycemic index, which places a numerical value of 0-100 to foods based on how much they raise your blood sugar. The glycemic load measures not only how much your blood sugar rises but also accounts for the serving size and time will take the reach the blood stream.

When it comes to fruit glycemic load is a more important factor than just using the glycemic index number. When you use the glycemic load scale the lower the number the better and anything over 10 should considered a very high glycemic load and if you would like to compare something like a frosted doughnut would result in a glycemic load of around 20+.

Glycemic Load of Popular Fruits

  • Oranges: 3

  • Watermelon: 4

  • Blueberries: 5

  • Apples (Golden Delicious): 6

  • Pineapple: 6

  • Kiwi: 7

  • Mangoes: 8

  • Cherries: 9

  • Grapes (Black): 11

  • Bananas: 16

  • Raisins: 28

Are Berries Really the Best Fruit?

If you are speaking about nutrition content berries are your best bang for buck or better yet most nutrrition per calorie. Berries contain the most antioxidants per calorie than any other fruit. The antioxidants contained in berries are shown to help prevent a variety of health conditions such as, dementia, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Like other fruits berries are not all created equal.

Best Berries by antioxidant content

  • Goji

  • Rasberries (Black)

  • Blueberries

  • Rasberries (Red)

  • Elderberries

  • Cranberries

  • Strawberries

Other High Antioxidant containing Fruits

  • Plums

  • Cherries

  • Apples (Red Delicious)

  • Figs

  • Apples (Granny Smith)

  • Pears

Some Fruits are Cleaner than Others

Many of us are spoiled when it comes to fruit. We have the luxury of going to the grocery store and picking our fruit and declining to purchase the piece of fruit with the slightest mark or dent in it. It amazing that a fruit can be harvested, packed, and shipped hundreds of miles and if it has the slightest imperfection many of us will not choose it. In order to keep fruit in such a condition that appears fresh and natural many unnatural processes have to take place. The biggest risk to your health when consuming fruit is the pesticides used on them. The Enviromental Working Group (EWG) examined test done by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and found that 70% contain pesticide residue on produce. The EWG found 230 pesticides and pesticide breakdown products. Some of these pesticides are known to carcinogenic to humans, can damage male reproductive systems, can cause complication in pregnancy, and be toxic to the nervous system. The EWG came up with a list of what they call the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” to help you make better choices when choosing not just fruit but all produce.

Fruits listed as most contaminated to least contaminated according to EWG

  • Strawberries

  • Nectarines

  • Apples

  • Grapes

  • Peaches

  • Cherries

  • Pears

  • Blueberries

  • Plums

  • Tangerines

  • Raspberries

  • Grapefruit

  • Oranges

  • Bananas

  • Watermelon

  • Cantaloupe

  • Kiwi

  • Honeydew Melon

  • Mangoes

  • Papayas

  • Pineapples

  • Avocado

Check out the full EWG list 2018 shoppers guide to produce