Today’s blog post is from guest dietitian blogger Alexandria Hoare. Alex outlines a compelling case of why you should ignore the populist hype of ‘sugar hating’ and get on board getting more of it in your diet in the way nature intended – through fruit.
The benefits of fruit
What do apples, pears and oranges all have in common? If you answered that they are all fruits you are absolutely correct. If you answered that they are all good for your health you are spot on again. Fruits used to be a staple in many diets, however in amongst all of the low carb and anti sugar chaos, many people are now avoiding them.
In a rush to rid the diet of ‘toxic sugar’, fruit has fallen on the wayside. However, many studies have shown that fruit is not linked to any adverse health effects, quite the opposite in fact.
Most recently researchers in Sweden discovered that eating a diet high in fruits could reduce the risk of an often lethal form of aortic aneurysm. The study collected data from over 80,000 people over a 13 year period and found that people eating at least two whole fruits per day, reduced the risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm by almost a third.
The main fruits that were eaten were apples, pears, bananas, oranges and other citrus fruits. The fruits’ high antioxidant levels may offer protection by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
Eating whole fruits can also reduced the risk of developing diabetes. Earlier this year a study published in the British Medical Journal revealed that certain whole fruits – in particular blueberries, grapes, apples and pears – could lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The study found that over an 18-year period, 6.5% of the 187,382 participants developed diabetes, but those consuming at least two serves of fruit per week reduced their risk by up to 23%.
In the same study those who consumed two or more serves of fruit juice per day increased their risk of developing diabetes by as much as 21%. As Tim wrote in a previous blog post, this is reason why you should be eating your fruit, not drinking it.
Blueberries and strawberries may be the fruit of choice if you want a healthy heart thanks to their high levels of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins (a sub class of flavanoids naturally found in fruits and vegetables) can dilate arteries, reduce plaque build up and provide other cardiovascular benefits. Results from one study found that people who consumed three or more servings of strawberries and blueberries per week had a 32% reduced risk of a heart attack compared to those that ate one serving or less per month – even if their diet was rich on other fruit and vegetables.
And the news gets even better. A research team from Harvard Medical School found that compared to no berries at all, people who ate one serve of blueberries each week reduced their risk of developing hypertension by 10%,
And it looks like an apple a day may in fact keep the doctor away. After eating an apple a day for 6 months, post-menopausal women in one study reduced their LDL-cholesterol by 23% and raised their HDL-cholesterol by 4%. Furthermore, the same women who were eating an apple each day saw a reduction in two biomarkers that are often linked to heart disease: hydroperoxide and C reactive protein. To top it off the women lost an average of 1.5kg.
These studies are just scratching the surface of the abundance of health benefits that whole fruits have to offer. So bring back the fruit bowl and fill it with a rainbow of fresh and wholesome fruits to enjoy every day (and just in time for summer when all of my favourite fruits are in season).
Alex is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and nutritionist based in Melbourne with a Bachelor of Health Science and a Master of Dietetics from Deakin University. Alex is active in the social media space and you can read more of her health writing through her blog The Dietitian’s Pantry and connect with her through Twitter and her Facebook page.