In recent times there have many debates as to whether fruit is actually good or bad for you. The low carb diet trend saw many people avoiding fruit, because according to them ‘fruit is all sugar and loaded with carbs’.
It has left a lot of people still uncertain as to whether they should reach for that tempting, golden banana or just pass it by. Let’s, right off the bat, tell you that it’s okay to grab that banana, orange or a handful of grapes – and continue reading about the facts of sugar in fruit.
Things We’ve Always Known About Fruit
Two simple facts – fruit comes from plants and humans have been eating them for millennia. Our bodies have evolved to adapt to the small quantities of fructose found in nature. Fruits are real, whole foods that provide not just sugar and starches, but also water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients (naturally occurring plant compounds that work with other nutrients to promote good health). Fruit also offers significant chewing resistance, meaning they take a while to chew and digest. As a result, the fructose they contain gets to the liver slowly.
Fruits are incredibly filling, ranking among the most filling foods you could eat. So when you eat whole fruits, you are less likely to over-indulge and there is an almost automatic reduction in your calorie intake. Fruit comes in at about 75 calories per serving. That’s 75 calories of nutrient packed goodness. Take a moment to compare that to the 225 empty calories you get form a 20 ounce can of soda!
Calories consumed from eating fruits and vegetables are predominantly in the form of carbohydrate. This carbohydrate is often fructose, the natural sugar in fruit. It is well known that fructose is harmful when consumed in large quantities, and fruit is relatively high in sugar when compared to other foods.
This is where things begin to get a bit warped. Some people started to argue that all of this means that fruit is bad for you. However, it is virtually impossible to consume too much fructose by eating fruit. Feel free to grab an apple while we crunch the numbers to see why.
One large apple contains 23 grams of sugar, 13 of which are fructose and it will leave most people feeling satisfied. On the other hand, a 16 ounce bottle of cola has52 grams of sugar, 30 of which are fructose.
And you don’t quite get the same feeling of satiety. Also, let’s not forget the great nutritional value of the apple, as compared to the cola. And just to rub it in, a quick look at a cup of strawberries shows us just 7 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and nearly a day’s worth of vitamin C, with some healthy antioxidants, folic acid and potassium thrown in for good measure.
The sugar in soda is referred to as ‘added sugar’ and it is added (quite liberally at times) to most of the foods we consume. That takes in the brownies, breakfast cereal, barbecue sauce and ‘fruit’ juice. There is an over-abundance of evidence that added sugar is bad for you, and not just because of the speed at which it is absorbed and hits the liver.
Consider as well, that foods high in added sugar are usually also high in added fats, sodium and refined flours.
We must point out that dried fruit and fruit juices do not fall in the same boat (or sugar bowl) as whole fruit. In fact, some nutritionists will tell you that dried fruit contains an excess of sugar and therefore, more closely resemble commercial candy than they do fresh fruit.
In the case of fruit juices, even the ones you make at home are lacking in the rich fiber and some other benefits you derive from eating the whole fruit. A healthier bet is to go for a smoothie (whole fruit put in a blender), but watch what you add. And remember smoothies eliminate the liver pleasing, time consuming action of chewing.
So now you know sugar in fruit is not the bad guy. What we need to be weary of, is when sugar is taken out of its natural package and consumed in excess. So go ahead and enjoy the all-natural goodness of fruit.