Is fruit a good bedtime snack?

Thank you to a reader for asking:

What do you think of fruit as a snack at night?

I’m asked this question very often from patients in person and here on my blog. Fruits are hailed as being an essential part of our diet. They are even classed in the same category as vegetables in the Canadian Food Guide. Do I personally eat a great deal of fruit? The answer is no.

It’s true that fruits have a lot of water and antioxidants, but they also have a lot of sugar. This sugar is pure fructose, which is  absorbed straight through your intestine and in to your bloodstream, spiking blood sugar. Biologically speaking, humans have been on this planet for 10,000 years and have only had broad access to fruits for the last 100 years because of advances in the transportation industry. My mother even told me that oranges were so rare when she was young that they were a special treat at Christmas time. If fruits were truly “essential” to good health, they how have we done so well as a species for such a long time?

Having fruit is certainly a healthier alternative to most late-night snacks (which typically contain refined carbohydrates, fat and salt). But before eating anything, first ensure that you’re well-hydrated. Still feel the need to snack? Take a second to consider if you’re really hungry, or just eating out of boredome, stress, or simply because it’s there! If you’re still craving something, choose fruits with a lower sugar content and higher antioxidants.

My favorite fruit is the avocado. It might just be the perfect fruit: low in sugar, high in fiber and high in good fat. This fat is about 71 to 88 percent of an avocado’s total calories – about 20 times the average for other fruits. A typical avocado contains 30 grams of fat, 20 of which are health-promoting monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid, and not the saturated kind of fats you would find on steak, for example. Avocados also contain anti-inflammatory nutrients, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, manganese, selenium, zinc and
omega-3 fatty acids.

Besides avocadoes, here is a more comprehensive list for you to consider:

Fruits lowest in sugar:

  • Lemon or Lime
  • Rhubarb
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cranberries

Fruits low to medium in sugar:

  • Strawberries
  • Papaya
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupes
  • Honeydew melons
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Grapefruit

Fruits fairly high in sugar

  • Plums
  • Oranges
  • Kiwifruit
  • Pears
  • Pineapple

Fruits very high in sugar

  • Tangerines
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Pomegranates
  • Mangos
  • Figs
  • Bananas
  • Dried Fruit

I hope this helps the next time you have the late-night munchies!

Christian

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