diets · eating · health

Are grapes the Skittles of the fruit world?

I blogged recently about rescuing sugar (in moderate amounts) from its detractors. See Sugar on my tongue: In defence of the sweet stuff .

You see, around here we’re committed to the idea of moderation. See  Why Food Is Beyond “Good” and “Evil”.

Tracy wrote, “One of my favorite parts of both the  intuitive eating approach and the the demand feeding approach to food is that they both tell us to “legalize” all foods.  Carrot sticks are as legal as carrot cake, neither better nor worse than the other. I can already hear the rumblings in the comments.  “But carrot sticks are better for you than carrot cake!”  I can even hear those who would jump in against carrot sticks because they have a higher sugar content than celery sticks.”

That’s part of my worry about the rush to get rid of sugar. First, it’s sugar, then dried fruit, then high sugar fruit such as grapes, bananas, mangoes, sweet cherries, apples, pineapples, pears and kiwi fruit, then fruit juice, the next thing you know you’re with Tim Ferris on the “fruit only on cheat days” diet plan. (Tracy blogged about that too. See Will I Still Have My 4Hour Body 4 Years from Now?.)

skittles!
skittles!

I was reading about getting rid of sugar as part of my looking about for defenses of sugar. One person advocating a sugar ban said, “But keep eating fruit. Fresh fruit’s okay.” But then this, “But not grapes. Grapes are just little bags of sugar. They’re basically the skittles of the fruit world.”

ARGH!

Really?

WebMD says, “One cup of grapes, with about 100 calories, provides more than a quarter of the daily recommended values of vitamins K and C. Grape seeds, which are edible, are chock-full of antioxidants.”

Medical Knowledge Today says, “One cup of red or green grapes contains 104 calories, 1.09 grams of protein, 0.24 grams of fat, 1.4 grams of fiber, 4.8 milligrams of vitamin C, 10 micrograms of vitamin A, 288 milligrams of potassium, 0.54 milligrams of iron and 3 micrograms of folate.3 Grapes are high in water content and good for hydration. High water-content fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense, meaning they provide a large amount of essential nutrients while containing few calories. Grapes contain 70 milliliters of fluid per cup.2 Grapes are high in antioxidants important for eye health such as lutein and zeaxanthin, and red grapes contain the phytochemical resveratrol in their skins, the antioxidant synonymous with wine known to lend protection from several chronic diseases and conditions. Grapes also boast the power of the flavonoids myricetin and quercetin which help the body to counter-act harmful free radical formation.”

See also What Is the Nutritional Value of Red Grapes? on LiveStrong.

The nutritional facts about Skittles can be found here. A Google search for “health benefits of skittles” turned up no results. Surprise. Chill out people. Grapes are not Skittles. (And even the odd Skittle can have a place in a healthy diet.)

Image: Purple grapes growing on vine in bright sunshine
Image: Purple grapes growing on vine in bright sunshine

13 thoughts on “Are grapes the Skittles of the fruit world?

  1. Our understandings about these things can become so skewed by the pseudo-science spewed from the mouths of fitness gurus who have decided to try and make a living off their addiction to exercise and to justify their addiction as worthy of moral praise. The WHO recently made some recommendations about daily sugar intake not exceeding 50g per day for a normal adult, and this recommendation was heralded in newscasts everywhere as significant and perhaps even relevatory. What the newscasts failed to state was that the WHO did not consider the 50g limit to include “intrinsic sugars” – that is, sugar from fruit and vegetables, because people’s consumption of fruit and vegetables lowers the rate the of the types of diseases allegedly on the rise. Rather, the 50g restriction applies only to “free sugars” – those added to foods like soda pop and unfortunately, carrot cake, as well. As you stated earlier, Sam – sugar is sugar – no matter the source. So really all that the WHO is doing is recommending that people stop eating so much junk food and eat more fruits and vegetables. Hardly a revelation! The problem is: these fitness gurus are going to rely on the fact that sugar is sugar, and try to say that our sugar intake should not exceed 50g a day – period. So now alot of the disciples of pseudo-science will fall ill because they’re not eating enough fruit and vegetables! It never ends.

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  2. Your body processes natural sugars found in fruits differently than it does added sugars.

    I think if your biggest health concern is eating too many grapes, everything is going to be okay.

    Also, this post got me in the mood for grapes. Snack time!

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    1. As far as I know, there is no significant difference between the sugars in fruit and the refined sugar we add to foods. The only difference is how fast sugar gets stored in the body, or metabolized. This in turn depends on the amount of fibre in and the chemical composition of the fruit, or for that matter, the food which refined sugar is added to. Accordingly, the sugar even in different fruits and vegetables gets metabolized at very different rates. The WHO wants people to eat fruit and vegetable for many reasons, one of the most important being because of the vitamins and nutrients in them, and to avoid junk food because most junk food has little in the way of valuable vitamins and nutrients. The amount of and the rate at which the sugar in different fruit and vegetables is matabolized is not unimportant in deciding how much of which to eat, and perhaps even how often, almost especially for diabetics and others who have medical conditions that can be affected by such matters. But for most people, and as you say, if their biggest health concern is the amount of grapes they eat, everything is going to be okay. Which is also why the WHO didn’t classify grapes in the group of foods that count toward your 50g of sugar per day, even though the sugar in them gets metabolized quickly, i.e. the vitamins and nutrients in them are good for you; just don’t make a meal of them.

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  3. Oh, sorry, I thought you were saying that “natural sugars” and “added sugars” were qualitatively different things. My mistake.

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  4. I’m sorry to hear that some people are calling grapes the “skittles” of the fruit world. I discovered one of my favorite snack combinations last year quite by accident, but I’ve found that when I’m in the mood, nothing satisfies me quite as well as grapes and gouda cheese. 🙂

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  5. Oh gosh. This is wonderful. So brilliantly written and I agree with every word. They are delicious and very healthy. My daughter loves and they are no doubt helping towards giving her good health. One cannot just compare them to non-nutitrional sweets. Sweets are also delicious too. It’s all good.

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