My teacher gave us a friendly reminder yesterday that fruit, despite all of its wonderful nutrients, is still classified as a simple sugar. Yes, that means it’s in the same category as things like juice, soda, candy, or fat-free ice cream.
Fruit contains mainly fructose, which is the sweetest of all of the sugars. Simple sugars such as fructose go straight into our bloodstream after eating them, which gives us a quick rush of energy. Our body tells our pancreas to produce the hormone insulin, which is released and attaches to the sugars to guide them into our cells. This all happens very quickly, leaving us craving another energy burst by way of more simple sugars. As you can see, it’s this process that leads to constant sugar cravings.
But fruit is supposed to be healthy for us, right?
While fruit does contain many antioxidants and important nutrients for our health, it cannot be ignored that fruit is high in sugar. The skin of fruit does contain some fiber, but not much. The best way to approach eating fruit is to consume it with a protein and a fat. This way, the sugar will take longer to get into our bloodstream, and we will feel full for a longer period of time. This prevents the instant spike in our blood sugar. Rather than craving more sugar immediately, we will feel satisfied.
So basically, a piece of fruit alone is not the most well-rounded snack, especially for someone who tends to enjoy or crave sugar a lot. Some foods that would pair well with fruit that include protein and fats include nut butters; nuts and seeds; full-fat yogurt; a smoothie that includes flaxseed oil, nuts and tofu; or even some cheese.
And speaking of fruit, I happened to get an enormous amount of apples and pears from my CSA the past couple of weeks, so I made applepearsauce last night. I couldn’t find a recipe that I approved of so I made up my own – apples, pears, lemon juice, cinnamon, and a little bit of water. I kept the skins on and did not add ANY sugar. It turned out perfectly – nice and chunky, and just sweet enough. We had it with dinner (grass-fed steaks, kale chips, cucumbers and peppers) so there was plenty of protein and fat in the meal. But just a little tip for those of you that make homemade applesauce in the fall – no sugar is needed! The natural sugars in the fruit keep it plenty sweet. Also, if you keep the skin on the fruit, you’ll get a little extra fiber and texture!