Is fruit sugar healthy? Many of us like sweets, and it's too tempting to reach for a piece of candy instead of an apple. It is known that too much sugar is bad for our health, which increases the chances of diabetes and heart disease and often hinders our weight loss goals.
The difference between fructose and other sugars
Not all sugar is created equal. There is natural sugar in many foods we eat, including fruits, dairy products, grains and vegetables. These foods contain sugar no matter what - even if no sugar has been added.
So, what is the difference between fructose and other sugars? Refined or processed sugar has many names, including white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, palm sugar, high fructose corn syrup. These sugars come mainly from plants but have somehow been processed into a simple, sweet form.
Refined sugar is often added to foods to make them taste good or to help them last longer.
Although refined sugar can be devilishly addictive. Fruits have vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. In other words, is the fruit you eat more nutritious than a bag of candy?
Does the body treat fruit sugar in the same way as refined sugar?
While the body breaks down all the sugar in the same way - whether you get it from a cake or a banana - the process of fructose is much slower. This is because fiber slows down the digestion of sugar, and many fruits are rich in fiber. Another tip that helps slow down the absorption of the fruit even more is to pair your fruit with a meal or a protein.
Foods filled with refined sugar - such as cakes - have little or no fiber, which means that sugar can move quickly through the bloodstream. This is why you experience a high sugar content and then crash after drinking soft drinks or eating half an ice cream. Refined sugars also tend to lack other nutritional value and are often considered "empty calories" (think sweets or sweet cocktails).
Is fruit sugar healthy?
Like all sugar, too much fruit sugar is not good for you. But compared to refined sugar, fruit is a much better option. Fruits have many good nutrients in them that are important for our body, vitamin C (this is recommended), vitamin K and fiber. Berries and apples also have flavonoids and antioxidants that can help with cancer and other prevention of chronic disease.
Which fruits are highest and lowest in sugar?
Berries such as raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are lowest in natural sugar, while the highest are dried fruits, bananas and mangoes. Fruit juices also tend to contain a lot of sugar, and it is easy to drink too much of it because it does not require the same digestive process as a whole fruit.
So, how much fruit should you eat a day? What is usually recommended is up to three servings of fruit a day.
What is the glycemic index, and why does it matter?
It is important to look at your sugar intake - no matter what type of sugar you consume. The glycemic index is a practical tool that ranks foods based on how they affect blood sugar. This in turn helps you make more informed business decisions.
Foods that have low glycemic index ("Low GI") melts more slowly. They cause a slower increase in blood sugar. Foods that are higher in the glycemic index are digested and absorbed faster in the body, so they have a greater effect on blood sugar and thus insulin. Most fruits are low to medium high.
If you live with diabetes, it is important to consume foods with a low GI value to control your blood sugar. Foods with a low GI will keep you full longer, which helps with weight control.
The key to any healthy diet is moderation. If you really want something sweet, it's better to reach for fruit than a chocolate bar. Fruit keeps you full longer and provides vitamins and nutrients. Berries are good because they help satisfy your craving for sweets and quench your hunger thanks to a lot of fiber.