Posted by: Guy Dufour
Thursday, March 29, 2018
“Are strawberries bad for you?” asked one of my clients during her weight training session. To be honest, the question caught me a little off guard, but only for a brief moment. My first thought was to understand why she was asking this question. I said “Do you think strawberries are bad for you?”. She thought for a moment and said “well, they are a whole food”, paused and added “but they have a lot of fruit sugar”. Ah Ah! Here we go, now I had more to go on. Sugar, the current bad boy of health and wellness. What do you do when you are told to eat “whole foods” but they contain sugar? That was my client’s dilemma and it just might be yours as well.
We could go really deep down the rabbit hole on this subject if we wanted to. For a healthy lifestyle, it is not necessary to get uber technical. Let’s start with some basics. Sugars are carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are classified by their chemical structure and are in three groups: monosaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides (saccharides is sugar in latin). Fructose, the sugar in fruits, is a monosaccharide which means it contains only one sugar group or chain link. You could think that fructose is bad for you since a monosaccharide is absorbed very quickly by the body. As in most things nutrition related, the answer is… it depends. More on that later.
Let’s talk strawberries. One cup of strawberries has 49 calories, 12 grams of carbs of which 7 are sugar and 4 of those grams are fructose. You also get 3 grams of fibre. In addition, strawberries and fruits in general are filled with nutrients that your body needs. So far, one cup of strawberries actually looks like a good snack.
This is really important: the sugar in fruits doesn’t seem to contribute to the sugar epidemic we are currently facing. One reason is because of their fibre, water and nutrient contents. The real culprit: high fructose corn syrup. That’s the stuff that is used in processed foods and drinks as a sweetener. A 32 fl ounce of soda has about 50 grams of fructose. If you consider that the average North American adult consumes 20% of their daily energy intake from added sweeteners, you can see how fructose and sugar get a bad rep. To put this in perspective, if our “average” adult eats 1600 calories in a day, 320 of those calories were from sweeteners.
In the spirit of keeping thinks simple, here is Coach Guy’s first rule to help you lose weight and have the body you desire. Rule #1: do not drink your calories. We all know that a can of pop is bad for us or that we shouldn’t eat cookies. However some items that contain loads of sugar are hiding behind the assumption that they are good for us. Look at the nutrition facts of fruit juices, they are loaded with sugar. Fruit smoothies are also hiding tons of sugar and calories. It doesn’t matter how healthy you make that smoothie. If you put 3 bananas, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of strawberries and an apple, your smoothie will have 73 grams or sugar! Almost 1.5 times as much as that 32fl ounce of soda mentioned earlier.
Quick tip: If you want a healthy smoothie, use mostly vegetables and add 1 fruit to make it palatable. It won’t win any taste awards but it will give you lots of nutrients and will be healthy for you.
To conclude: strawberries and all fruits consumed in their natural form and in reasonable amounts are good for you and are part of a healthy and balanced nutrition plan. I hope this article helped you understand that fruits are super healthy and even though they contain fructose, eaten in moderate amount, that is perfectly acceptable. If you have any questions or need help with your nutrition, feel free to contact me. I’m here to help.
Yours in health,