Its impossible to deny the benefits of a nutrient rich, produce-packed diet. Weve long been taught that eating our fruits and veggies is an important component of a sound nutritional plan.
However, the majority of us tend to eat a disproportionate amount of fruit relative to vegetables and who can blame us? Fruits sweet taste and portability make it an easy snack choice, one thats certainly healthier than chips or a candy bar from the vending machine.
Many of us dont even realize that its actually possible to eat too much fruit, especially if youre eating fruit in hopes of mediating your poor vegetable intake. Sure, no ones going to prefer raw kale over a banana or a pint of ripe strawberries, but balancing the your intake of fruits and vegetables offers some stellar health perks that many people fail to consider.
Is there really that much of a difference between a fruit and a vegetable?
Although fruit is indubitably a nutritional powerhouse, its far more calorically dense than vegetables. For example, a cup of broccoli contains a mere 30 calories. A cup of sliced banana contains 140 calories.
Fruits higher caloric content is largely thanks to its sugar content. Most vegetables are very low in sugar, while most fruits contain quite a bit of sugar: that cup of broccoli contains 1.5 g sugar, while the banana weighs in at a hefty 18.5 g. To put that in perspective, a Hersheys bar contains 24 g sugar.
The World Health Organizations recommends capping total grams of sugar to 5% of your caloric intake- for an adult on a 2000 calorie diet, that amounts to 25 g a day.
While the fruit in sugar is indeed natural and occurs along with fiber, too much fruit can cause blood sugar fluctuations that leave you cranky, irritable, or ravenous soon after snacking. Furthermore, individuals watching their weight often prevent weight loss by treating fruit as a free food, inadvertently consuming too many calories to achieve their weight goal.
To moderate your intake, aim to consume 8 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day, and be sure to pick the healthiest options available. Dont be fooled by marketing gimmicks- some forms are certainly healthier than others.
Choosing the healthiest options: Just say no to juice and dried fruit
Certain types of fruit should be avoided altogether, especially if youre trying to maintain your weight. Fruit juices and dried fruits tend to be high in calories and low in portion size, meaning you get less hunger-quashing bang for your caloric buck.
Dont assume that a fresh-squeezed juice is healthier than the bottled juice available at the grocery store. Many people have turned to juice thanks to the juicing trend, but for those trying to watch their weight, juice can pack too many calories. For example, an orange contains about 85 calories. A mere 6 oz ( cup) contains the same amount of calories, but does little to aid satiety. Dried fruit suffers the same fate as juice high in calories, low in volume. With the whole fruit, you get fiber and a larger portion size, both of which help you feel fuller, longer.
Are vegetable-fruit blends any better?
While you do get the added nutrient benefit by adding vegetables to a juice, the calories are often similar. Although juice can offer some nutritional benefits if its the only way youre willing to consume produce, its always better to prioritize whole vegetables over juice.
For the vast majority of people, there are at least some vegetables that can be consumed in their whole form vegetables are not the unpalatable monstrosities that kindergarteners claim them to be.
Often, our beliefs about food preferences lie in the habits we learned as children. If you never learned to consume vegetables as a child, you are less likely to enjoy them as an adult. Even if youre adamant that youll never meet a vegetable you like (no, sorry, French fries dont count), try experimenting with 2 new vegetables each week. Cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine, celery, red bell peppers, and cauliflower are all great places to start, as theyre well-liked vegetables that dont pack particularly pungent or bitter flavor.
Give up fruit altogether?
If all of this talk has you considering ditching fruit altogether, stop right there! Fruit offers too many benefits to rid your diet of it entirely. The important thing is to moderate your consumption: Stick to the recommended daily serving sizes and always choose whole fruit, rather than juices or dried fruit varieties. And remember to incorporate more vegetables to your daily produce quota. Just as an airplane is not a suitable replacement for a submarine, fruit should not be used in the place of vegetables.