Not all fruit is created equally

  • 9 May 2013
  • Reading time 4 mins
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Sugar is perhaps a greater addiction than people realise and kicking the habit can be difficult. If you are finding it particularly difficult to give up sugary foods and drinks, you are probably hooked and there are clear biological reasons for this.

Fructose, the main sugar in fruit, is particularly bad news because it tastes sweet but can be turned straight into fat. You don’t get the instant feedback that you get from pure glucose (blood sugar - our body’s fuel) that you’ve had enough so you keep drinking more. That’s why most drinks are sweetened with ‘high fructose corn syrup’. In fact, fructose is in everything. Whether you know it or not you have been fructed. Nature only ever provides fructose with fibre - so chew your fruit, don’t drink it. The only fruit juice I have is Cherry Active or Blueberry Active because the main sugar is xylose, not fructose, which is very slow-releasing.

Sugars stimulate the dopamine pathways in the brain that make you feel good and also give serotonin a boost if you are feeling low – which is a trigger for eating something sweet for many people. Eating a low-GL diet is the best way to keep your blood sugar level even. If your blood sugar goes too high, the excess is stored as fat, and if it goes too low that’s what triggers hunger. The low-GL diet is based on three rules:

(1) eating a little less carbohydrates (and only those that release their sugar slowly);
(2) always eating protein with carbs, which further slows down their sugar release; and
(3) eating little and often by having three main meals and two snacks daily.

Fruit will help when you crave something sweet and they contain useful antioxidants as well. If you want to eat fruit as a snack, especially if you are following my Low-GL or Alternate-Day Low-GL Diets, ideally you need to limit to 5GLs at a time (that’s a snack portion on my low GL diet) and consume with some protein such as a few almonds or pumpkin seeds which slow down the release of the sugars in fruit. Be especially wary of fruit juices, as they often contain much more sugar per serving than whole fruit, so get used to diluting them with water, about half and half to start with. I’d avoid anything with grape juice, or grape juice concentrate, which is the sweetest of all.

What are the best fruits to choose, and the ones to eat sparingly? In the tables below I have listed some popular fruits by portion size and provided the GL score for each. You will see that the berries, cherries and plums are best and that some fruits such as bananas, grapes and dates will send your sugar levels soaring. For a main meal you can have 10 GLs. So, if you have yoghurt and fruit, with chia seeds, you can have 10GLs of the fruit.

Lower Glycemic Load Fruits

Serving Size Looks Like Serving Size GL 5 GL Serving Size 10 GL Serving Size
Blackberries 1 medium bowl 1 1 large punnet 2 large punnet
Blueberries 1 medium bowl 1 1 large punnet 2 large punnet
Raspberries 1 medium bowl 1 1 large punnet 2 large punnet
Strawberries, fresh, raw 1 medium bowl 1 1 large punnet 2 large punnet
Cherries, raw, NS 1 medium bowl 3 1 punnet 2 punnet
Grapefruit, raw 0.5 medium grapefruit 3 1 small grapefruit 1 small grapefruit
Melon/cantaloupe, raw 0.5 small melon 4 ½ small melon 1 small melon
Orange, raw 1 large 5 1 large orange 2 large oranges
Apple, raw 1 small 6 1 small apple 2 small apples
Plums, raw 4 plums 5 4 plums 8 plums

High Glycemic Load Fruits

Serving Size Looks Like Serving Size GL 5 GL Serving Size 10 GL Serving Size
Apricots, canned in light syrup 1 small tin 12 ½ small tin  
Banana, raw 1 small 12 ½ banana 1 banana
Lychee, canned in syrup and drained 1 small tin 16 ¼ can  
Figs, dried, tenderised, Dessert Maid 3 figs 16 1 fig 2 fig
Sultana 30 sultanas 25 10 sultanas 20 sultanas

So the secret is to chose fruits wisely, be aware of its GL score and portion control, for more information on the GL and portion size of fruit, and other foods, check out my online GL Counter and my books The Low-GL Diet Bible and new book Burn Fat Fast.

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