Half a melon as a starter, cherries for dessert, a slice of watermelon to cool off in the afternoon and a nectarine in the evening. Difficult to resist the temptation, especially when the thermometer climbs. In addition to being delicious, summer fruits have a reputation for quenching thirst and hydrating the body. They also deliver plenty of minerals, vitamins, and other health-promoting compounds that make us feel guilt-free. But consuming fruit at will is far from being wise, as explained by Nathalie Négro, head of the nutritional center of the Thermes de Brides-les-Bains (Savoie).
Why do you advise not to abuse fruit?
NATHALIE NEGRO. Fruits are certainly full of water but eating them to quench your thirst is not a good idea because it maintains the confusion between thirst and hunger. This bad habit leads many people to eat, rather than drink water, to quench their thirst. In addition, fruits are rich in fructose, a natural sugar that is not a problem when ingested in moderate amounts. But at high doses, fructose tends to raise blood triglyceride levels and increase abdominal fat, leading to an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. It has long been thought that only the fructose in sodas, industrial biscuits and chocolate bars was harmful to health, but we now know that that provided by fruit generates the same harmful effects. In addition, summer fruits also contain polyols, carbohydrates which are not – or very little – degraded by digestive enzymes and reach the colon intact. Their excessive consumption is thus likely to cause painful bloating and diarrhea.
Which ones to prioritize?
All fruits are interesting for their fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and other antioxidants. But some are more to be limited because they contain higher sugar content. Cherries, melons and figs are among the sweetest: they contain respectively 13 g, 14.8 g and 14 g of sugar per 100 g. If you watch your line, it is better to opt for peaches (8 g of sugar / 100 g), strawberries (6 g / 100 g), raspberries (5.8 g / 100 g) or watermelons (8 g /100g).
What is the maximum amount that can reasonably be swallowed per day?
I recommend eating no more than three servings of fruit a day, so you don’t take in more than 50g of fructose daily. A portion of fruit corresponds to half a small melon, 200 g of watermelon, a handful of cherries, two small peaches, twenty strawberries or about thirty raspberries. Vegetables and fruit are not interchangeable, which is why a melon starter cannot replace a plate of raw vegetables. If you eat it at the start of a meal, you must then compensate with a dish containing vegetables rich in fiber (lentils, spinach, pepper, eggplant, etc.) and not take another fruit for dessert. Similarly, it is possible to eat a fruit as a snack provided that it replaces, and not adds to, that of dinner.