How to eat fruit snacks without the guilt
RTE 6 February 2018 00:00:00 Fruit snacks, whether you are an avid snacker or not, can be one of the best ways to reduce the risk of obesity, according to a new study.
The study found that fruit snacks can reduce the risks of metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension by more than half.
The findings are published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Fruit snacks contain many carbohydrates, which can be a source of sugar.
But this is often linked with the rise in the number of people who develop diabetes, which increases the risk for obesity.
This is because sugars, which are metabolised in the liver and muscles, contribute to the development of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension.
This has led to increased demand for sugar-free products.
Dr Caroline O’Neill, an associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Dundee, said: “Our research suggests that eating fruit snacks may have the potential to be one form of lifestyle modification that may reduce the increase in obesity in populations with metabolic syndrome and the risk factors for diabetes.”
The study used data from the Scottish National Health Service, which collects data on the eating habits of people aged between 16 and 65 years.
Researchers assessed the consumption of fruit snacks during a 12-month period, looking at the levels of total sugars, carbohydrates and other nutrients.
They found that while the consumption and levels of sugar-sweetened soft drinks, fruit juices and other sweetened drinks had been linked to a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome (MetS), the intake of fruit and vegetables was not.
Dr O’Neil said: “[Consumers of these foods] can reduce their overall carbohydrate intake and also reduce their intake of sugars, as they are generally less processed than sugar-containing foods.”
They may therefore reduce the intake or increase their consumption of some of the sugars in fruits and vegetables.
“In the study, researchers analysed data from 679 participants, with all participants having at least one metabolic syndrome diagnosis.
The participants were followed up for a total of 9 months.
The researchers found that those who ate fruit snacks the most tended to be the people with the highest metabolic risk.
This was not the case for those who were consuming other foods with a higher sugar content.
They were found to have a lower risk of MetS and the overall risk for diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases was similar to the average participant.
Dr Anne McAllister, senior lecturer in nutritional and lifestyle sciences at the School of Public Health, University of Edinburgh, said the study showed that people who eat fruit and vegetable snacks are unlikely to have metabolic syndrome.
She said:”Our findings suggest that fruit and veg are an acceptable and healthy option for individuals with metabolic syndromes.”
These data support the concept that people with metabolic dysregulation are able to maintain a healthy weight, particularly those who consume fruit and veggies daily.”
The benefits of eating fruit and non-dairy soft drinks are clear, with a reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
“But these are only marginal effects, and they do not reflect the full range of health benefits of fruit-based foods, particularly for those with metabolic conditions.”
The research was carried out by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Department for Energy and Climate Change, Department of Education, Culture, Media and Sport and Scottish Health.
Find out more about the research The findings also support the idea that people should eat fruit juice or fruit smoothies in moderation, particularly when considering the number and type of servings they consume, she said.
Dr McAllisters said:[This study] also provides strong evidence that people can enjoy fruits and vegetable-based snacks when they are consumed in moderation.
“For example, the consumption pattern of fruit juice was associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome in this cohort of adults.”
This study suggests that the consumption patterns of these products should be carefully considered when selecting fruit-related snacks, with particular attention paid to their nutritional profile.
“The new findings are based on data from a Scottish National Survey of Healthy Eating, which was conducted between July 2018 and September 2018.
It was commissioned by the Scottish Government to gather data on eating habits in Scotland.
This included questions on the consumption, quality, availability and consumption of various types of fruit products.
The survey was funded by the Healthy Eating Scotland Trust and the National Institute for Health Research.
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