How healthy food can make you fat

In today’s health article, dietician Jaime Rose Chambers answers Christine’s question about whether her husband’s large intake of fruit is contributing to his weight gain. 

Q. Christine
My husband eats mountains of fruit believing it to be healthy. His daily intake would consist of an apple, an orange, a peach, a banana, strawberries, blackberries, grapes and any other fruit he takes a fancy to. This is not as a meal replacement but comes in between his three meals a day. He has a lot of belly fat and I am convinced it is due to the intake of fructose from all the fruit. He thinks I have rocks in my head as he says everyone knows that fruit is good for you. Can anyone help solve this issue for us, please? 

A. There is no doubt that too much fructose (or fruit sugar) in your diet can contribute to fat gain. This is because fructose is metabolised somewhat differently to other sugars. Fructose gets shuffled through the liver where it can easily be stored as fat. 

It’s important to recognise, though, that fructose-containing foods are not all created equal. The fructose from the recommended two to three servings of fruit per day is an important part of our diet because fruit contains fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. That fibre also helps to slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream.

However, the high doses of fructose found in fruit juice, some sauces and soft drinks can contribute to fat gain. Eating a huge amount of fruit each day may also contribute to this fat gain but increased weight also occurs from generally eating more calories than our body needs. Each serving of fruit contains about 100 calories so it’s possible your husband is consuming too many calories a day, with a vast majority of those calories coming from fruit. 

Jaime Rose Chambers is an accredited practising dietician and nutritionist, and co-author of The Mystery Gut (Pan Macmillan). 

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