Sweet things that taste great can be good for you!

There is the perception that anything sweet is not good for us. However, sweetness in itself is not bad. Giulia Enders, author of “Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ”, sums it up nicely: “It just depends where it comes from”.

Using this as a basis, any natural foods, and by that I mean vegetables and fruits, are full of sweetness which comes from natural sugars. Not only that but some may taste sweeter than others depending on how ripe they are. Fruits and vegetables also contain thousands of other elements such as vitamins and minerals, which also play a vital role in supporting our health.

When looking at sweetness in foods, it is important to understand there is a very big difference between the sugar obtained from a candy bar and that from a piece of fruit. A candy bar has very little nutritional value, no fiber, vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants, yet they are often very high in added sugars. Many of these added sugars not only harm the health of our gut but are also highly inflammatory in the body and are one of the causes of weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

The sugars that we need to be aware of as consumers are the ones that are in pop and candy, but we will often find them in the most unlikely places, such as processed sausages, sauces, cereals, and more. These sugars are often added to products to enhance the flavours and increase their shelf life.

When looking to improve their health or lose weight people often wrongly assume that the sugars in fruit should also be avoided. Fruits and nuts not only contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, but fruit also has a high water content, meaning that any natural sugars are even more diluted than those found in candy. The sugar from fruit is digested slowly providing the body with a steady source of energy. Fruit is often seen as being nature’s candy, there is nothing tastier than ripe apricot in the spring, fresh strawberries in the summer, or a crunchy fall apple.

The beauty of fruit is that it already comes prepackaged, all we need to do is to sometimes peel the skin off, which as a bonus is completely biodegradable!

ABOVE: Combine fresh avocados with dates to make this healthy chocolate pudding

For people who do not enjoy eating fruit as it is, it can be used in crumbles, combined to make simple ice cream. Nuts can be combined with dried fruit to make some very tasty snacks, just as an avocado can be used to make a delicious chocolate pudding.

It is so easy to overeat candy, but do you never hear about people eating several apples in a row? This is because fruits contain many other elements which combined to provide us with food that has good nutritional value and that makes you feel satisfied. But be careful when buying dried fruit — it is important to look for the ‘no added sugar options’ as sugar is often added to dried fruit.

When looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle through food, make sure to include fresh fruits — they play a role — and avoid processed foods, sauces, and drinks which contain added sugars.