Another soap box moment coming your way….
I regularly have people come into my clinic who completely avoid fruit, not because they don’t like it but because it is bad for you. The rationale being fruit is too high in sugar and they need to follow a diet low in sugar.
All carbohydrate foods contain some type of sugar and when you eat the carbs your body breaks them down in glucose which is what your body uses for energy. So it doesn’t matter if you carbohydrate is a vegetable, a fruit or a grain, it will be broken down into its simplest form of sugar to fuel the body.
But not all sugar is created equally. Sure all types of sugar give us the same amount of calories or energy from the food be they from a Mars Bar or an apple. But the health risks of eating sugar are not related to consuming the sugar naturally present in certain foods like fruit. The health risks are associated with consuming added sugar or free sugars.
Let me say that again... the health risks of eating sugar are not related to consuming the sugar naturally present in certain foods like fruit. The health risks are associated with consuming added sugar or free sugars.
Free sugars are any sugar added to a food or drink. But they can also be sugar that is already in the food like honey, syrup and fruit juice. So free sugar is sugar added in to a product or removed from their naturally occurring source (fruit juice).
What makes these sugars free is that they are not inside the cells of the food we eat - they are freely floating around making them more available for quick access.
Health risks relating to sugar come from these free or added sugars - things like tooth decay, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, etc. Plus often these sauces of free sugars have other additives and have little if any other nutritional value.
Fruit does not contain free sugar.
In certain forms it does. Fruit juice does contain free sugar because when the fruit is juiced the sugars come out of their cells and become free. Plus the fibre is lost which slows down the absorption of the sugars. Dried fruit is also not great as the process of removing water from the fruit makes the nutrients, including the sugar more concentrated. Dried apricots for example contain six times more sugar as fresh ones.
It is also much easier to consume excess sugar from foods and drink that contain these “free sugars” than from fruit. For example a bottle of orange juice equates to about six whole oranges which very few people would consume during a day. And when you tuck into some dried fruit you tend to eat more.
Not all sugar is bad - we need to eat fruit. It has loads of nutrients that help provide us with a balanced diet for good health. Fruit has lots of different vitamins like Vitamin C, minerals like potassium and flavonoids which may reduce your risk of heart disease. It is an excellent source of fibre (which is rarely there in foods with free sugars) which helps fill you up meaning you eat less, plus it keeps those trains departing regularly and smoothly from the station.
And there is an abundance of evidence showing a diet eating whole fruits alone or in combo with veggies reduces your risk of dying from cancer, obesity and heart disease.
Have I convinced you yet?