Evolutionary biology dictates we are the end product of how our ancestors lived and ate. Many Americans are decadents of people from non-tropical locales such as but not limited to northern Europe. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that bananas and other tropical fruit were likely non-existent in most of our great great grandparent’s diets. As far as I can tell, the Middle ages and before had very few airplanes to transport fruit across continents. Humans have highly individualized genetically determined nutritional requirements. This makes it difficult to come up with diet plans for the masses. A diet that promotes health and vitality in one culture might cause serious illness in another. That being said, many Americans have little or no hereditary roots for a diet high in fruit. In fact, most of the fruit available today has a lot more sugar than it’s decedents due to GMO’s and cross breeding. For example, until the 19th century a person would be hard pressed to find a sweet apple. For most of history the apple was a low sugar tart fruit until farmers learned grafting methods and produced the apples we eat today. It is no secret that many of us eat too much sugar and adding more by the way of fructose (fruit sugar) might not be as healthy as it’s cracked up to be.
Granted fruit can provide our cells with vitamins and nutrients that are essential for life. Most fruits have lots of healthy fiber, very little fat if any (except for avocados and coconuts) and none contain cholesterol. However, many types of fruits are chock full of sugar. Whats worse is fruit sugar is mostly made up of the much maligned sugar called fructose. Fruit sugar is like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is metabolized primarily by the liver, while glucose (mostly table sugar) and starches are processed by every cell in the body. Consuming fructose means more work for the liver. High amounts of it will usually promote fat storage because while your liver is dealing with this sugar it can’t do it’s other job, breakdown fat. Significant fructose intake has been liked to increased belly fat, overall weight gain and increased hunger. Have you ever head someone proclaiming, “I won’t eat bananas because they are so fattening”? They should be saying, “I won’t eat bananas because my ancestors didn’t and they are jam packed with fructose and calories”.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 26 grams of sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men. Two cups worth of grapes or bananas have more than your total daily recommendation. Don’t even get me started on fruit juice…it is chock full of fructose and devoid of the healthy fiber in most fruits. Drinking juice is equivalent to eating vitamin fortified sugar. Fruits can hold three times more calories and sugar per serving when compared to vegetables. Many vegetables offer similar or the same vitamins and minerals you can get from fruit with far less effect on your insulin levels.
In order to lower your sugar levels and fat storage limit your tropical fruit intake (and rid your fridge of juices) and increase your vegetable consumption. Some low sugar fruit options are tomatoes, berries, avocados, pears, kiwis, apricots and coconuts (actually they are a drupe: part fruit, nut and seed).