Sugary Fruits: Are They Bad for You?

The Debate Continues About the Health Benefits of FructoseIf you read health publications in print or on the Internet, you’ll see that there are many conflicting opinions regarding the consumption of carbohydrates, fruit, and fruit sugar (known as fructose). The low-carb craze and various proponents of the zero-fructose consumption camp have shed some doubt as to whether eating fruit is such a good idea after all.

Here’s what you need to know about eating fruits.

Although whole fruits contain fructose, the amounts are not really problematic for most people. Since whole, raw, and frozen fruits contain a great deal of fiber, this slows down fructose absorption and really does not cause a large spike in insulin secretion. Whole fruits also contain water-soluble B and C vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and bioflavonoids. These nutrients are all extremely important in the maintenance of human health.

The reason why some people wonder if fruits are good for you is because whole fruit is a carbohydrate and contains fructose. Fructose, in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, has been shown to cause fatty accumulation in the liver, abdominal adipose tissue insulin resistance, high triglycerides, and an enhanced inflammatory response. In my opinion, this is not in any way, shape, or form the same thing as naturally occurring fructose contained within whole fruit. High-fructose corn syrup is typically used as a sweetener in processed foods and drinks. Of course, fruit is a carbohydrate, but one which is fine to eat if consumed in its whole form. I have never met anyone who developed metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes from eating too much fruit!

Concentrated fruit juice and fruit drinks are an exception, because they have no fiber, so they cause a more rapid increase in blood sugar and associated insulin secretion—which is not a good thing if you have a weight issue. If you wish to drink fruit juice, do not drink the concentrate variety, but instead drink freshly squeezed juice with high pulp content.

Although I agree that most people should eat more whole fruit, some people cannot tolerate more than one serving per day. These folks have very bad insulin resistance, or are diabetics and need to monitor their blood sugar very carefully. In my opinion, if you fall into this category, stick to blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries, and Saskatoon berries. These are sweet, but contain bioflavonoids, which can improve blood sugar and lower inflammation and blood pressure.

Finally, if you are eating a diet based upon vegetables, lean protein, legumes, whole grains, oily fish, nuts, olive oil, and low-fat dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese, the addition of whole, fresh, or frozen fruit to your diet several times per day will provide the added, nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants required for super health.

Source:
Katz, D., “Fructose, Fruit, and Frittering,” Huffington Post, August 6, 2013; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/fructose-fruit_b_3694684.html?utm_hp_ref=@healthnews123, last accessed August 6, 2013.