Fruit is NOT the enemy.
I often have clients who tell me they cut fruit out of their life. Or, they limit fruit to only once in a while, eat it only at a certain time of day, or only eat certain kinds of fruits. I spend significant time discussing the differences between the makeup of fruits and refined sugar, what they do to the body, and how they are digested. There are similarities between the sugar from fruit and other sugars, but there are also clear and important differences.
Here’s The Scoop!
At the end of the day, sugar is sugar. We need a source of sugar, because our bodies break down all sugar into glucose, which we use as fuel.
The makeup IS SIMILAR.
Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar in many fruits. Fructose breaks down in your liver and doesn’t provoke an insulin response. Although fruits vary in how much fructose they contain, they still have a combination of this naturally occurring sugar, AND they also contain glucose.
Refined sugar, coming from sugar cane or sugar beet, is made up of sucrose which is also broken down into glucose and fructose. Arguably refined sugar and sugar from fruit have similar make up. However, sucrose is broken down more rapidly, which spikes insulin more quickly, and actually leaves you hungry again sooner. This can potentially lead to ingesting more calories throughout the day. It can also result is that "high - low" feeling we call a "sugar crash."
Once sugar is digested and hits our small intestine – no matter where it originally came from - (be it from a candy bar or strawberries) – the body won’t know the difference. Once sugar is found in the bloodstream, it all looks the same. So consuming a moderate amount of sugar, no matter the source, is key.
OK, SO WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE!?
Although sugar is sugar at the end of the day – the big difference is this: fruit provides more than just glucose molecules needed for energy. Fruit is filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, water and phytonutrients that are helpful and provide many benefits. The combination of these beneficial nutrients outweigh the implications of the sugars they contain.
A little more on fiber:
Because fruit has fiber, it helps to slow down the digestion of glucose in the body - helping us to avoid a crazy insulin spike. Because the fiber is slowing this process down, it also allows for the body to have more time to actually use glucose as fuel instead of store it as fat. The slow release of glucose helps to prevent that "high-low" feeling. Fiber also leads us to be fuller for longer, which could prevent us from eating excessive amounts of calories throughout the day.
Fruit is NOT the enemy, and to be clear, I wouldn’t title any food as “The Enemy.” My motto is and always will be moderation. This blog post was not created to beat up other sources of sugar, it was intended to discuss the importance and safety of fruit intakes. This is common misconception, and as a result many people are driving themselves into vitamin deficiencies or robbing themselves of immune boosting antioxidants for fear of the sugars in fruit!
5 Fruit Recommendations made by a Registered Dietitian:
1. Consume 2 fruits a day.
2. Choose whole fruits as opposed to fruit juices, canned fruit in syrup, jellies or jams.
3. Focus on a variety of colors! Mix up the kinds of fruit you eat day to day or week by week.
4. Worried about your fruit going bad? Buy fresh frozen! Frozen fruits have the same nutrients as regular fresh vegetables.
5. Pair your fruit with a source of protein or fat for EVEN SLOWER digestion! The pairing of your fruit with another macronutrient will reduce your risk of insulin spiking even more.
If you wonder about the amount of sugar in your diet or have any questions regarding fruit, reach out to me today for an assessment.