Friday, January 13, 2012
Health: Are fruits fattening?
People who live in Mediterranean countries and who follow a Mediterranean diet have never considered fruit as a fattening food. To the contrary, they are well aware that fruits are a gift that nature has endowed us with; they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water, all nutrients that contribute to our good health and happiness -without health is difficult to be happy.
Having said that, fruits, like most foods, can contribute to your gaining weight if you eat them in excess or if you fix them the wrong way. This will be the case if you eat three bananas instead of eating just half of one, if you eat a fried banana instead of eating it raw, or if drawn your strawberries in whipping cream.
Luckily, most of us eat fruits in their raw state and without adding anything, thus eliminating almost entirely the risk of increasing their calories through wrong preparations. And as we are going to see now, many of the fruits we regularly eat have fewer calories than many other foods that are regulars in our meals. Therefore, fruits allow us to be flexible with the amount we can eat.
Most fruits are low in calories
Some fruits are really low in calories. In this group we find melons, watermelons, papayas, and grapefruits. They contribute less than 40 calories for each 100 grams of fruit. The berries group, oranges, tangerines, pineapples, apricots, and peaches follow with only 50 calories for each 100 grams.
To make easy our task of comparing fruit with other foods, let's take as an example a slice of bread with a weight of about 25 or 30 grams. This slice of bread will probably have more calories than any of these fruits mentioned above and without having the richness of vitamins found in fruits. In addition, as you are very well aware, we very seldom eat bread by itself; most of the times we spread it with butter, margarine, peanut butter, or the like, increasing its calories. On the other hand, because of the richness of flavor in fruits, we usually don't have a need to spread anything on them and we eat them raw.
The nutrients in fruit
Fresh fruit can be consumed as a main dish, desert, or as a snack in between meals. Among the many nutrients contained in fruits are vitamins A and C, especially in citrus. Vitamins B1, B2, and niacin are also found in fruits although in smaller quantities. As far as minerals are concern, fruits are high in potassium, between 200 and 300 milligrams (mg) for each 100 grams of fresh fruit. The fruit with the highest content of potassium is bananas, with about 400 mg for each 100 grams of fruit. Fruits are low in sodium, making them the perfect food to fight hypertension.
On the other hand, fruits are low in protein and fat except for coconuts and avocados which have a high content of fat.
Carbohydrates (sugars) in fruit
When it comes to carbohydrates, we can separate fruits in two groups:
Group A: fruits in this group have a content of 5 to 15 milligrams of sugar for each gram of fruit. Among the fruits in group A we find cherries, plums, peaches, cranberries, kiwis, limes, lemon, tangerines, mangoes, apples, melon, oranges, papayas, pears, and watermelons.
Group B: fruits in this group have a content of about 15 to 20 milligrams of sugar for each 100 grams of fruit. Among the fruits in this group we find bananas, dates, figs, and grapes.
In a separate group we could include avocados and coconuts that although they have few carbohydrates, 10 milligrams of sugar per 100 grams of fruit, they have high amounts of fat, more that 35% of its content, which makes them very high in calories.
Figuring out calories in food
Based on the above information we can say that fruits in group A contribute between 40 and 80 calories for each 100 grams. Fruits in group B contribute over 150 calories for each 100 grams of fruit. Since nutrition experts recommend eating four portions of fruit a day, you have to think about these numbers when eating fruit. If you only eat fruits from group A, you will be ingesting between 160 and 300 calories a day. Not bad at all! But if you only eat fruits from group B you will be gulping down over 600 calories. Something to take into consideration.
As you have seen in this article, we cannot say that fruit is fattening. What we have to remember when eating fruit is which fruits belong to what group and eat accordingly. By that I mean, eat more fruits from the group A and use moderation when eating fruits from the group B.
Have a healthy day,