By Dean L. Jones

Most of the year California consistently yields an abundant variety of fruit, but this season literally offers everything from apples to watermelons.  Even though I work at avoiding processed food with added sugar, I am less disciplined at over eating fresh fruit, and eating too much fruit is bad for a body’s health.

Fresh fruit is undoubtedly something that is good for humans, basically indispensable mainly because of its delicious taste and quick energy source in the form of sugar, as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidant pigments, and other compounds that help reduce risks of disease.  My problem is that I can over eat fruit commercially hurried to reach grocery stores shelves, which is nutritiously less than what nature designed it to be.

Fruit companies deliver fruits like bananas, pears and oranges picked long before becoming ripe, and/or apples that are waxed with a sealant that gives them an uncharacteristically long shelf life.  And the extra expense to buy organic fruit is something I am not willing to do just to get something that I believe to be healthier, so I struggle with eating whole fruit incorrectly.

It is hard to keep weight down when you eat a lot of fruit, due primarily to the large amount of sugar and fructose embedded within it.  This is why I choose not to drink fruit/vegetable smoothies that can easily add over 300 calories per 8-ounce glass.  I learned the hard way that fruit juice is not a fruit and is closer to drinking fruit sugar than it is to eating a whole fruit.  In its liquid form, fruit sugar bypasses the complete digestive process, often leading to blood sugar spikes.

High vitamin green juice smoothies are popular, and although better than most drinks, the average smoothie includes fruit (commonly berries, bananas and/or apples), making it packed with sugar.  Whenever fruits and vegetables are juiced it removes the all important fiber, thereby advancing the sugar more rapidly into the bloodstream.  For instance, a 12-ounce glass of fruit juice has the same amount of sugar as a can of soda.

Nutritionists suggest choosing average-sized apples, cherries, grapefruits, average-sized oranges, pears, and plums that are relatively low on the glycemic index.  Intermediate glycemic index fruits include bananas, cantaloupes, mangos, papayas, and pineapples.  Fruits that are high on the glycemic index include dried dates and canned fruit cocktails.

Even though I am disappointed in the tiny containers that the 99¢ stores sell blueberries, I have grown to appreciate this small serving as the correct size for consuming a very nutritious fruit.  Fruit is both nature’s sweetheart and nature’s digestive cleaning tool.  Courtesy of fruit’s brightly colored skins and abundance of nourishing nutrients it helps to keep things moving.  Accordingly, I do not take fruit for granted and a little consumption discipline goes a long way toward living SugarAlert!

Dean Jones is an Ethics Advocate, Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), contributing his view on certain aspects of foodstuff.