When it comes to our health and eating healthily can you eat too many fruits and vegetables?
While fruits are nutritious, too much of even a healthy food can lead to weight gain. The key is to remember to control the portion sizes of the foods you eat.
Overeating healthy foods is easy to do, but the same rules apply to healthy food as junk food. Your weight fluctuates based on a basic concept – energy in versus energy out. If your total calorie intake is higher than the energy you burn off in a day, you will gain weight. If it is lower, you will lose weight.
The five-a-day guideline is a minimum recommendation for the amount of fruit and vegetables we should eat.
While it is fine to exceed this amount if you are a healthy weight, if you are overweight or suffer from high cholesterol or diabetes, too much fruit could spell trouble. This could also explain why, despite your healthy lifestyle, you’re piling on the pounds.
One of the problems is people forget that fruit – like all food – contains calories. And the calories in fruit can make you just as overweight as those in chocolate, explains Dr Carel Le Roux, consultant in metabolic medicine at Imperial College London.
‘Different people over-eat different things,’ he says. ‘But the people who eat fruit to excess are often weight-conscious. I’ve seen patients who can’t understand their obesity because they eat healthily, then it turns out they are eating way too much fruit or drinking fruit smoothies all day – glugging down 300 calories in a couple of minutes.’
So how much fruit sugar is in your favourite fruit?
It is recommended to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – ideally two of fruit and three of veg. But depending on your choice, you may be consuming more fructose – or fruit sugar – than you thought.
• Apricot 0.45g fructose (pinch of sugar)
• Clementine 0.5g (pinch)
• Plum 1.6g (large pinch)
• Fresh fig 2g (1/2tsp)
• Eight cherries 2.4g (1/2 tsp)
• 1 slice honeydew melon 3g (over 1/2 tsp)
• Kiwi fruit 3g (over 1/2 tsp)
• Orange 3.6g (over 1/2 tsp)
• Five strawberries 4g (1 tsp)
• Glass of orange juice 5g (1 tsp)
• Banana 5.5g (1 tsp)
• Small mango 6g (1 tsp)
• Grapefruit 7g (1 1/2 tsp)
• Handful raisins 8.7g (nearly 2tsp)
• Golden Delicious apple 11g (2tsp)
• Pear 11g (2tsp)
• Granny Smith apple 8g (11/2 tsp)
• Handful dried apple 8g (1 1/2 tsp)
• Large bunch (500g) grapes, 39g (nearly 8 tsp)
Fruit is packed with fructose (fruit sugar) and this doesn’t make you feel full.
When we eat sugar, our body releases the hormone insulin, which tells the brain we’ve had enough to eat, explains dietician Ursula Arens of the British Dietetic Association.
‘High insulin levels dampen the appetite, but fructose doesn’t trigger this insulin response, so the brain doesn’t get the message that you are full,’ she says.
Essentially, when we eat fruit we bypass this internal ‘stop button’, which could explain why some of us can absent-mindedly nibble away at slice after slice of melon or munch through a large bunch of grapes.
So remember, you really can have too much of a good thing.