Fruit and vegetables

5 a day – 1 fruit and 4 vegetables

Even though fruit contains many important nutrients and dietary fiber you should also be aware of the carbohydrate and sugar content. Women with endometriosis often experience increased pain associated with the consumption of high glycemic foods. This is because both an increased glucose level and the following increased insulin level can affect inflammation and pain reactions in the body.

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. There are several different carbohydrates and they affect blood sugar differently, so it is important to know what kind of carbs you should eat.

We divide carbohydrates into starch, natural sugars, added sugars and dietary fiber. With natural sugar means sugar that occurs naturally in food product, e.g. fructose in fruits and berries. Added sugar is sugar that has been added to a product under preparation, either on the kitchen counter at home or industry. Starches and sugars are digested easily and give energy, while the fiber is indigestible and often contributes a minimum of energy. Dietary fiber is good for digestion and can reduce the risk of e.g. weight gain, obesity, type-2 diabetes, cancer of the colon and cardiovascular disease.

• Starch is composed of many glucose molecules that are shared and absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestine. We find much starch in potatoes, pasta, refined flours, bread and rice.

• Simple sugars, such as sucrose (sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and lactose (milk sugar), we find a lot of plain sugar, sweet drinks, honey, fruit, jam, milk and cheese.

• Dietary fiber is found in legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole-grain products.

It is the carbohydrates in the food that have an impact on your blood sugar level. When you eat foods that contain digestible carbohydrates, your blood sugar will rise. How high the blood sugar rises depends on the type of carbohydrate the food contains, how much of you eat and the composition of the meal. Recent recommendations conclude that we should choose low glycemic carbohydrate-rich foods, so-called “slow carbs”. If you choose foods with slow carbs, i.e. foods that are rich in fiber and low in sugar and starch, it will make it easier to achieve a healthy blood sugar level. Examples of such foods are nuts, seeds, vegetables, berries and some types of fruit. These foods provide important nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fiber.

The fact that fruit, berries and vegetables are rich in fiber helps lower the stomachs emptying rate. This provides a slower absorption of carbohydrates from the intestine and gives a reduced effect on blood sugar rise. When you cook vegetables some of the starch in the vegetables change, leading to an increased blood sugar rise. Cooked vegetables have a greater effect on blood glucose than raw vegetables have. When looking at a food’s glycemic index (GI), this appears clear: raw carrots have a GI of 16, while a cooked carrot has a GI of 58.

The GI and glycemic load (GL) is used as a measure of how food affects blood glucose. GI describes each food, while GL describes the consumed meal. By being aware of this and consistently choose foods with a low GI the GL will also be kept low.

Avoid drinking juice; one glass of fruit or vegetable juice is normally considered one of the five recommended portions, but juice provides a greater blood sugar rise due to the higher energy content and smaller amount of dietary fiber than in the whole fruit. It is therefore recommended to choose the whole fruit instead of juice.

Choose low-carb fruits; some fruit is especially rich in fructose, such as banana, mango and grapes so their use should be restricted. Another thing to consider is that the more ripe a fruit is, the more it will affect your blood sugar.

Dried fruit has a much higher proportion of carbohydrates than fresh fruit since the water is removed. Many dries fruits and berries also contain a lot of added sugars. Eat therefore most fresh fruits and berries, and limit or avoid completely dried fruit.

All vegetables are OK to eat, except potato. Potato has a really high level of starch and should be avoided.

Exercise; moderate exercise right after meal helps the body to reduce fluctuations in blood sugar, and when the blood glucose gradient decreases it is secreted less insulin. Create a regular routine to keep in moderate movement for about 15 minutes after each meal.

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