Healthy fruit enjoyment

Fruits contain fructose. Some a little, others a surprising amount. The right amount is crucial when consuming fruit

It's worth the effort: the sweetest cherries hang at the top of the tree

© Getty Images / Cultura RF / Monty Rakusen

They taste best freshly picked and still sun-warm: aromatic mirabelle plums, fully ripe apricots or crunchy sweet cherries. A handful of fresh summer fruits is not only delicious, but also healthy. If only it weren't for the fructose. It casts a small shadow on the sun-drenched fruit.

"If we weren't already ingesting sugar in every nook and cranny, then the sugar content of fruit wouldn't matter," says Dr. Matthias Riedl, nutritionist from Hamburg. Since most people already consume a great deal of - and often hidden - sugar from ready-made products, lemonades and juices, sugary fruits are sometimes the decisive factor for an excessively high overall balance of the sweet substance.

Germans don't eat enough fruit and vegetables

The WHO draws the limit for healthy consumption at 25 grams of sugar per day. In larger quantities it becomes a creeping poison - especially for overweight people.

Fruits contain different types of sugar, mainly the particularly sweet tasting fruit sugar (fructose) and grape sugar (glucose). For a long time, fructose had a healthy image and was considered harmless. Today, however, we know that larger amounts of the energy donor are converted directly into fat in the liver.

From hand to mouth: our ancestors already picked berries

© Getty Images / Westend61 / Daniel Weisser

But that doesn't mean that you should save on fruit and drastically reduce your consumption. "Essentially, people in Germany don't eat enough fruit and vegetables," warns Peter Grimm, professor of nutritional medicine at the University of Hohenheim and head of the Baden-Württemberg section of the German Nutrition Society. "So we have to work more towards increasing consumption."

"It's all about the mix"

It is better to leave out the fructose elsewhere. Because there are many vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances in fruit. It's also high in fiber. "An apple, for example, contains valuable phenols such as quercetin and at least four grams of the fiber pectin," says Riedl. He already delivers ten percent of the
Daily requirement. "It is crucial that you not only eat your favorite variety, but also switch between the varieties," adds Grimm. "It's all about the mix."

But how much fruit per day can it be? Nutritionists agree that vegetables play a major role in healthy eating. It is not completely sugar-free either, but it is considerably lower in sugar than fruit. It should be 300 grams or three servings of vegetables per day. Only then does the fruit come as a supporting actor. Nutritionist Grimm recommends consuming 250 grams of fruit per day in two servings. His Hamburg colleague Riedl names 150 to 200 grams as a healthy measure.

There's so much sugar in it

The sugar content in grams relates to per 100 grams of fruit

Raspberries 4.8
Strawberries 5.4
Blueberries 6.0
Apricots 7.7
Peaches 8.0
Nectarines 9.0
Apples 10.3
Sweet cherries 13.2
Grapes 15.4
Bananas 17.3

Source: Heseker, energy and nutritional table

Sweet favorites: bananas, grapes and sweet cherries

Both experts advise preferring low-sugar, local varieties such as old apple varieties or berries. Even our ancestors enjoyed using aromatic wild strawberries, raspberries and blackberries - "that's classic collector's food," says Riedl. It tastes good, makes you full and keeps you healthy. Rhubarb is also extremely low in sugar and tastes very good as a compote, for example.

On the other hand, especially sugary fruits are sweet cherries, grapes and especially bananas. The average citizen eats around 92 of these per year. The favorite fruit provides more than 17 grams of sugar per 100 grams. New cultivars produce ever sweeter and bigger fruits, so that sugar intake continues to increase.

The operators of the zoo in Melbourne (Australia), who regularly supplied the great apes in the enclosures with their beloved bananas, also learned that this can be problematic. When the animals gradually became overweight and developed severe dental disease, those responsible switched the diet of the primates from the sweet and fruity diet to one that was significantly more vegetable.

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