There are a lot of conflicting opinions floating around in the world of nutrition and one area where confusion is rampant is the subject of fruit. If you follow a low-carb diet, you’ve probably read that fruit is best avoided because of its high carbohydrate content. However, avoiding fruits means that you miss out on a lot of important nutrients.
The Question of Sugar
Fruit is an important part of a healthy diet. Fruits are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals, antioxidants and fibre. Our ancestors ate olives, dates, figs and other fruits for thousands of years. Today, our diets have changed and modern commercially produced fruits tend to be bigger, sweeter and juicier. This may be a good thing for modern taste buds, but it’s not ideal from a nutrition point of view.
The Paleo diet recommends eating foods that are as close to “natural” as possible. Instead of eating refined carbohydrates, processed meats and foods with a lot of additives in them, you should look for free-range or grass-fed meats, organic vegetables and more traditional fruits such as figs, grapes, dates, olives, avocados and other low-sugar foods. That’s not to say that sugary fruits are automatically a bad thing. If you’re craving something sweet, then an apple or some cherries would be a better choice than a chocolate bar. However, these foods should be considered treats and eaten in moderation.
Getting Fruit in Your Diet
One challenge that many people face, especially when they’re getting started with the Paleo diet, is fitting fresh fruit and vegetables into their diets. If you’re used to going shopping once every couple of weeks and pulling meals out of the freezer when they’re ready, then adapting to a schedule that includes perishable foods can be difficult.
Dried fruit may seem a good option for someone that can’t get to a supermarket twice a week. However, dried fruit is not as good for you as you might think. Some nutrients are lost during the drying process. So while dried fruits do contain anti-oxidants and fibre, other nutrients such as vitamin C, iron and vitamin A are lost. In addition, dried fruits are more calorie-dense than their fresh alternatives. You might be surprised at how much sugar a serving of your chosen fruit contains.
There are some fruits that can form a part of the Paleo diet, however, including the following:
Raisins are rich in potassium, calcium and iron and also contain a phytonutrient called olenolic acid. This means that they help to keep your teeth, gums, bones and eyes healthy.
Apricots are a good source of dietary fibre, as well as beta-carotene, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. Apricots can help to improve your eyesight, relieve constipation and boost your immune system.
Dates contain iron, fibre, potassium and copper. They are quite calorie-dense, but they have many health benefits. They can help to reduce symptoms of fatigue, prevent anaemia and relieve constipation. They are also thought to prevent abdominal cancer.