Recently where I work, we all had to attend a training course about health and fitness. The instructor made some really good points, but she made a really bad one too. Not in my class, but in others she apparently said, “bananas are the devil. They’re as bad as drinking a Mountain Dew.” Now, I wasn’t in this class (thankfully!!) but it was said enough that that phrase has been quoted and quoted in the halls here. Bananas are going to kill me!! NO THEY’RE NOT!
I am against this idea with all my heart and soul (and nutritional knowledge!) Say what you want about what it means, but I did pass the NASM nutrition course. And I lost 50 lbs while eating fruit 2-3 times a day.
Yes there is sugar in fruit (and veggies) but it is SO NOT AT ALL the same as a can of soda. Let’s break down sugar!
There are a few different kinds of sugar but to keep this as simple as possible, I’m going to stick to talking about sucrose and fructose. What’s the difference? Both are monosaccharides, aka simple sugars. But they are processed differently in the body. Sucrose is your “blood sugar.” It’s what gets broken down and used as energy or stored as glycogen. Unlike with fructose, insulin is secreted in response to sucrose with is what raises your blood sugar levels. Fructose is not the preferred energy source and does not cause insulin to be secreted. It is broken down in the liver and treated more like a fat, which can raise triglyceride levels.
So does eating too much fruit cause weight gain? Yes, actually it does. A study had participants eating fructose as 25% of their diet. For a 2,000 calorie diet that’s 500 calories of fructose– that would take 20 apples to reach. 20 apples, every day? Yeah, don’t do that.
But every nutritionist, the FDA, WHO and FAO all say to eat fruit, usually 2-3 servings a day, as part of a balanced diet. In fact, dietitian Dr. Alan Barclay said in an interview:
Fruits are a core food and Australians only eat a piece a day on average which is appalling. The minimum recommended amount per day is two and anyone who suggests it contributes to obesity is wrong. We’re eating so little of fruit, how could it possibly be contributing to obesity when two-thirds of the population are overweight or obese. It’s absurd.
Humans have been eating fruits since the beginning of time! But what we haven’t been eating, what’s really changed in the Standard American Diet (SAD… literally) is the amount of added sugar we’re eating. Sugar is added to EVERYTHING. Natural and non-natural sugars and that is what is really killing us.
Like Mountain Dew. So are bananas just as bad as drinking a Mountain Dew? Let’s take a look.
You know what I also should have added to the ingredient list under bananas?? Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Panothenic Acid (all B vitamins), Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, and Selenium <– all micronutrients that are vital for living.
So tell me again how eating a banana (that will fill up your stomach and keep you full) is “just as bad” as drinking a MD??? To me, it’s not even close!
EAT YOUR DAMN FRUITS.
*Here, of course, is where I caution you and remind you it’s about balance and portion. But against dried fruit. I LOVE dried fruits. I could eat a handful of dried bananas in one sitting… which could easily be the equivalent to eating 6 bananas at once. Has anyone ever sat down and eaten 6 fresh whole bananas??
Pick whole fresh fruits over dried. Pick dried over juice. Pick juice over… soda? Idk. Don’t bother drinking juice.