Summer is in full swing, and with it, farm stands and stores packed with fresh summer produce. The vivid colors, the tastes and variety of offerings make summer the season of edible earthly delights – and who among us can’t wait to dig in? So we snack on lots of fresh fruit thinking, “Oh, it’s fruit. It’s good for me,” and wind up over-indulging, thinking that the sugars from fruit “don’t count”. By August, a few pesky pounds may have crept onto the scale, and the next question becomes “what happened?” The likely culprit? Those hidden sugar in your favorite summer fruits. So how can a fruit fanatic keep sugar in check without missing out on fruit’s nutritional benefits? Here’s some food for thought:
Stack the Deck
Get to know where the sugar is high, and where it’s not. For example, here are a few fresh fruits that are tasty and nutritious, yet still fall on the lower end of the sugar spectrum….apricots, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, lemons, lime, tangerines, peaches, plums,. On the higher end of the spectrum, fresh fruits with the highest amount of sugar include….bananas, grapes, lychees, pineapples and mangoes.
What Are You Drinking?
Not surprisingly, sweet fruits have more sugar in them, and the sweetest ones, such as bananas, pineapples, mangos – are often the cornerstones of your favorite summertime smoothie – delivering far more sugar than you want or need. Next time you order a smoothie, ask for a blend with fewer high sugar fruits and more low-sugar ingredients like berries. Another tip? If they use fruit juices to enhance flavor, ask them to use almond or hemp milk instead of super-sweet pomegranate, orange or apple juice.
A few dried cranberries sprinkled on your morning oatmeal isn’t a huge problem — but snacking on handfuls of dried fruit throughout the day can be, because once dried, fruits are transformed into small, less-filling, highly-concentrated sugar bombs that are easy to over-do. My advice? Skip dried fruit altogether and eat whole fruit instead. Enjoy all of summer’s delights – consciously, of course!
*Image of “peaches” via Shutterstock