Is the sugar in fruit bad for you?
Although delightfully tasty, sugar is not exactly good for the body. In fact, when consumed in high doses over a long period of time, the sugar found in sweet treats, processed foods and drinks can contribute to obesity, tooth decay, fatigue, weak bones, lack of concentration and even premature wrinkles. That said, it’s rather obvious why limiting your daily sugar intake is wise.
But what about sugar in fruit? It’s a naturally-occurring ingredient, so is it bad for you, too? Good question. Let’s find out…
The type of sugar found in fruit
The type of sugar found in fruit is called fructose, which is a simple sugar. This means it is broken down quickly and causes a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. Fructose – also called fruit sugar – is also generally metabolised by the liver only because the rest of your body does not have much use for it. (Note: glucose is the type of simple sugar used by the brain, muscles and other organs for an energy hit.)
If you eat too much fruit and your liver does not require the extra energy, the fructose can be stored as fat. That said, fruit should not be thought of as a fattening food, as many other sources of sugar (think many boxed cereals, sauces and soft drinks) contain a lot more fructose than your favourite juicy piece of fruit.
How much sugar does fruit contain?
It’s recommended women should consume no more than 100 calories of sugar a day (or around 24g), and men should aim for no more than 150 calories of it a day (or around 36g).
When it comes to the sugar in different types of fruit, some obviously contain more than others. Those that have low sugar levels include lemons, limes and berries such as blueberries, cranberries and raspberries (around 0-4g per serving). Low to medium sugar level fruits are cherries, peaches, nectarines, honeydew, rockmelon, apricots, strawberries and grapefruits (around 5-8g per serving). Sitting in the middle with a medium to high sugar level are apples, plums, pears, and pineapple (around 9-12g per serving). And those fruits with the highest sugar levels are oranges, tangerines, watermelon, grapes, mangoes, bananas and dried fruit varieties (around 13+g per serving). It’s worth noting avocado – a fruit that is often thought of as a vegetable – has no sugar.
The benefits of eating fruit
Fruit has the wonderful ability of adding a significant dose of fibre to your diet, which makes you feel fuller for longer and aids digestion. A number of fruits, including blueberries, contain antioxidants, which can prevent premature ageing and help lower blood pressure. Fresh fruit also feeds the body with vitamins, minerals and water. And considering fruit is generally low in calories, it packs a big nutritional punch. So, when compared with a can of soft drink that contains around 250 calories, 40g of added sugar and no nutritional value, there’s a lot more to fruit than just sugar.
Why you shouldn't eat too much fruit
Fresh fruit is a must in a balanced diet because it is loaded with lots of goodness found only in naturally-occurring foods, however it’s important not to eat too much. Overloading on sugar of any kind is not healthy for the body, and one must remember fruit is not exactly a guilt-free food – it does contains calories and carbohydrates, too. Enjoy fruit in moderation (two servings per day), and reach for vegetables if you’re after another fresh and crunchy food option, as they contain half the number of calories per serving and loads of fibre.
So, there you have it – the ins and outs of sugar in fruit. And as you can see, when it comes to eating fruit, it’s all about sporting a sugar-conscious mind at all times; a mind that is aware of how much sugar you’re eating each day, no matter where that sugar is coming from.
Were you aware of how much sugar fruit contains? Do you limit your fruit intake because of its sugar content? Will you be taking note of your fruit (and sugar in general!) intake from now on?