A common misconception I hear a lot of when talking about a plant-based diet is around fruit and it’s high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates. Yes, fruit does have sugar and carbs but the way fruit is broken down and metabolized in the body is not the same as if you were to eat say a piece of cake. The two main difference when comparing sugar from fruit (fructose) and refined sugar products (sucrose) is the stripping or maintaining of other nutrients present in the food and the bodies response to that food. The health risk concerning too much sugar for your daily intake is geared towards refined sugar, not fruit. Refined sugar is added to processed or semi-processed foods to enhance flavor and add calories.
Metabolism is extremely important to understand when learning about a whole foods diet. Metabolism is defined as the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Fruit is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals which slow down the release of insulin and leave you feeling full and satisfied after. Refined sugar on the other hand will cause an insulin spike, giving you tons of energy quickly and then leave you feeling tired and hungry soon after. The body can use the vitamins and minerals from fruit to feed and heal your cells.
all about Fiber
Some of the best sources of soluble fiber in particular, which help feed the healthy bacteria in our gut, include figs, apricots, pears and avocado. During this process short chain fatty acids are produced which are the energy source for our colon cells and are linked to improved immunity, improved gastrointestinal function, lower levels of various cancers and less risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity and other chronic illnesses. It has also been proven that diets high in fruit and vegetables reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and certain cancer.
Fruits main macronutrient is carbohydrates which are the bodies main energy source. Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. They also prevent protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism, according to Iowa State University. Carbohydrates are made of starches, sugars, and fibers. There are two types of carbs; complex and simple. Fruits, veggies, and grains are all whole food complex carbs. Chips, crackers, candy, bread, and anything packaged contains simple carbohydrates. The difference between the two forms is the chemical structure and how quickly the sugar is absorbed and digested. Generally speaking, simple carbs are digested and absorbed more quickly and easily than complex carbs. Meaning you will store simple carbs as fat instead of use them as energy because they essentially absorb into the bloodstream without feeding any cells. Complex carbs are digested and stripped apart sorting the nutrients and minerals as they spread out and fuel your body to repair, heal, and feed each and every cell.
Overall, studies continue to prove that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is far more superior than any other. So don’t be afraid of carbs or fruit and just keep your plate colorful. Learn more about a plant based diet here…