Does fruit make you fat?

Faddy low-carbohydrate diets have left behind false and confusing rumours, such as fruit can make you fat. In fact, when incorporated in a healthy, balanced, calorie-controlled meal plan, fruit will help with weight loss.

Fruit is nature's sweet shop, gloriously colourful and typically sweet to taste. It's a great source of fibre and nutrients. If you have a sweet-tooth, try to replace sugary snacks with fruit; they are usually lower in calories, and are packed with nutrients that nourish your body (which cannot be said of most manufactured sweet snacks).

Fruit isn't sugar free, but it's usually fat free. There's around 250 – 300 calories in most chocolate bars. To equal that, you'd need to 600g of apples, 300g of bananas, or 900g of strawberries. Of course, this doesn't count sugars you might add to fruit – so you must include those too!

The different colours of fruit reflect different health benefits, so to get the full range of vitamins and minerals, select different coloured fruits and eat a range over the week. There are so many different fruits, there's no excuse for getting bored. Don't stick to conventional bananas, apples and oranges – dare to be adventurous.

Don't forget to eat seasonally too, because nature provides the types of foods you need according to time of year. So you might like to try tayberries, greengages, sloes and damsons as well as pears, plums, strawberries and rhubarb for UK grown fruit. Another benefit to eating seasonally is that you support locally produced products and help the environment (by selecting foods that have not been flown long distances).

As fruit naturally contains fructose (a type of sugar), avoid eating it on an empty stomach. Instead, combine with a protein or fat source to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels. You only need a little, so five or six almonds, a small block of low-fat cheese, or a low-fat Greek yoghurt would all work well.

With so many fruits to choose from, swap unhealthy treats for fruit. As well as feeling healthier, you'll probably be saving money too, as fruits are usually less expensive than manufactured alternatives.