One thing that confuses most people when they start the Paleo diet is the issue of fruits and fruit sugars. Conventional nutritional wisdom dictates that fruits should be consumed in large quantities. Advocates of high-protein diets advise consuming smaller amounts of fruits because of the amount of sugar contained in them. So which is it?
Fruit Is Not Inherently Bad
Fruits are a good source of vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals. Some fruits, such as pears, for example, are rich in fibre too. Fruits grown in the wild offered a great source of energy and nutrients – which was exactly what our caveman ancestors needed.
The reason that some nutritionists advise certain groups of people to avoid eating large quantities of fruit is that domesticated fruits are sweeter, larger and contain less fibre than fruits found in the wild. This means that if you are insulin-resistant or struggling to control your weight, the downsides of eating sweet fruits such as apples, bananas and mangos outweigh the benefits.
Pears Are a Good Choice
The humble pear is one of the better nutritional choices available for people who struggle with the sugar quantities in other fruits. A 100g serving of banana contains 15.6g of sugars and a similar serving of cherries contains 14.6g. In contrast, 100g worth of pears contains just 10.5g of sugars. That’s still a lot compared to, say, a lemon, but the fibre and other nutrients in the pears makes them a good choice.
Why Pears Are Good for You
Pear skins contain vast amounts of phytonutrients, including anti-inflammatory flavonoids, antioxidants and cinnamic acids which are thought to have anti-cancer properties. Some of the flavonoids in pear skin have been found to help improve insulin sensitivity in people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Consuming anti-inflammatory flavanoids can also help to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, as well as help to prevent heart disease. The flavonoids and antioxidants found in pear skin can also be found in other fruits. However, pear skin is one of the richest sources of those nutrients.
A high-fibre diet can reduce your risk of developing gastric cancer because the fibre binds with the bile acids, decreasing their concentration in the secondary intestine and preventing damage to the gut.
Fitting Fruit into Your Diet
The Paleo diet can be summed up with one key principle: if your Stone Age ancestors could not eat a food, you should not eat it either. If you follow that rule, you will find yourself avoiding chocolates (which contain 60+ grams of sugar per 100g serving, as opposed to 15g for even the “worst” fruits), processed ready meals, drinks containing artificial colours and flavourings and refined carbohydrates.
Fruit should be eaten in moderation in the Paleo diet. Remember that cavemen did not have airplanes, so they could not import out-of-season fruits and eat the same things all year round. If you follow their example and eat locally produced, in-season fruits and vegetables, you will have a varied and healthy diet.