Is it really fruit-astic?

Fruit makes for a great snack, it’s healthy, and you can never overdoes on fruit.  Or can you?

My nickname growing up used to be Johnny Appleseed.  Yes, that Johnny Appleseed, the one that walked across America leaving a train of glorious, nutritious and shiny apples behind him.

Not only was it a poorly disguised pun on my actual name, Jonathan, it also definitely probably had something to do with the number of apples I used to eat.  Growing up, I’d easily consume an entire kilo of apples a day.  Grated, whole, cut, peeled, stewed, flambéed, baked, juiced and in peanut butter and apple sandwiches (which tasted awesome).  If Johnny Appleseed had still been alive, I would have put his kids through college; and brought him a new house and a car.

I was so busy gnashing on fruit, that, as I’ve mentioned before, the most successful attempt at getting vegetables down my gullet involved my grandfather paying me 10c for each carrot I ate.  We all remember how that ended up (re: vomiting).  My Mom and Dad, obviously distressed at my one sided diet, consulted a doctor who promptly told them that, as long as I eat enough fruits, my nutrition wouldn’t suffer.

Now, almost 20 years later, whenever I think of that advice, I want to repeatedly put my head through a brick wall whilst listening to Nickelback songs on repeat.

In 2007, a study was conducted in Bordeaux, France[1] on naïve wistar rats.  It was discovered that a total of 94% of the rats chose sucrose over cocaine.  Even when the rats were already cocaine addicted, such was the supranormal reward signal being sent out by the brain, they still chose the sucrose over Aunt Nora.

1 medium apple contains 3.77g sucrose, 4.42g glucose and 10.74g fructose.  I shall postulate that a kilo of apples would contain 9 apples (thanks to Google); that’s 33.93g sucrose, 39.78g of glucose and 96.66g of fructose a day from apples alone.  That’s a total of 170.37g of carbs a day from my apples alone.  The American Heart Association recommends a 9-13 year old boy should consume 1,800 calories a day[2] and the World Health Organisation recommends restricting your sugar intake to 10% of your total daily calories.

Hopefully by now you can start to see the problem.  As I grew up, munching down more sugar than the Kool-Aid Man, my tastebuds were becoming more and more desensitized to sweetness.

I lost the ability to taste the natural sweetness in vegetables and was, therefore, robbing myself of the myriad of vitamins and minerals present in those glorious, crisp, sticks of goodness.  Thankfully, as my schedule became more hectic, my sugar consumption inadvertently dropped and I, very slowly, overcame my addiction, as I’ve mentioned before.

Now my lunch is a salad and my morning tea is carrot sticks, beans and capsicum spears.  And they all taste sweeter than ever.

The last thing I want to do is turn this post into a witch-hunt against fruit, which is filled with important vitamins and minerals that the body needs for optimal functioning, which it is very hard to overdose on (which is why I’m focusing on the sugar content within the fruit).

But, like Elmer Fudd on the heels of Bugs, I just can’t let it go without mentioning this last point…  if you want to lose weight, lay off the fruit.

Everyone knows that if you want to lose weight, you cut back on your carb intake.  Rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pasta?  They all go.  Even the candy and soft drinks quiver at the back of the pantry, awaiting their impending fate.  But grabbing an apple, that’s a healthy snack.

An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.  And I rarely needed the doctors in my teenage years.

But did you know that there is only a very small difference between the chemical composition of sugars and starchy carbohydrates.  Take a look at these numbers.  Someone smarter than me can confirm this, but they are all very similar:

Fructose C6H12O6
Sucrose C12H22O11
Glucose C6H12O6
Starch C6H10O5

So, if you want to lose weight, lay off the fruit too.  Instead, go nutty for nuts, graze on green and other coloured vegetables, peck at protein, and feast on fats (including eggs- natures super food).

Save fruit for an after dinner dessert, regardless of how tempting that Sara Lee Chocolate Bavarian is, or as a post workout snack, when your body really needs those fast absorbing monosaccharides, the sugars in fruit .  Not only will you cut back on your carbs during the day and help your insulin levels lower, reducing hunger and helping you to lose weight, but you’d also de-sensitize yourself to sugar.

And de-sensitizing yourself to sugar will allow you to enjoy the resplendent flavours of so many otherwise bland or banal foods, whilst losing weight.

And isn’t that what everyone wants?

(The answers yes.)

Also, there’s now a spiffy new Facebook page I’ve created and linked to this site, because I’m technologically capable like that!  Like it… please… so it looks like I have friends.

[1] Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH (2007) Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE 2(8): e698. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000698

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