Is there a difference between sugar in fruit and sugar? – Annemarie

Here’s a question from one of our 90day Challengers – for more info on the Journey 90day Challenge go to www.journey90day.blogspot.com

Sugars are considered simple carbohydrates vs complex carbohydrates found in starch. All carbohydrates are used for energy in the body, food for your brain and nervous system. However not all carbohydrates are equal in terms of nutrition. There are three Monosaccharides, single sugar units, which are glucose, fructose and galactose. The other three sugars important in nutrition are Disaccharides or two single sugars linked together. These are lactose, maltose and sucrose. Sucrose is simple table sugar, fructose and glucose bonded together. Table sugar is made by refining the juice from sugar beets or sugarcane, but it also occurs naturally in many vegetables and fruits. It tastes sweet because it contains the sweetest of the monosaccharides – fructose.

This brings us to fructose or fruit sugar, which occurs mostly in fruit, honey and as part of table sugar as stated above. Fructose is also found in soft drinks, ready to eat cereals, cakes, pastries and other processed foods with high-fructose corn syrup.
This doesn’t mean that eating fresh fruit is the same as eating candy and soda with high fructose corn syrup. We know the dangers of HFCS that is so pervasive in our diets today. It’s everywhere because it cheap to use for food manufacturers and since the addition of HFCS into so many foods and beverages, America has become obese. We can also blame the obesity epidemic on inactivity, supersized portions, excessive dining out and many other factors, but I digress. An interesting note is the recent lobbying of the Corn Association to have the term High Fructose Corn Syrup changed to “Corn Sugar” for more consumer acceptance…

Of course you are getting many more nutrients with that fresh peach! Fructose found naturally in fresh fruit is not metabolized as quickly as HFCS because fruit has naturally occurring fiber which slows digestion. Fructose is often recommended to diabetics because of the low glycemic index (less of an insulin response).

But the bottom line is that too much of a good thing can be harmful. Some studies have shown large amounts of fructose in the diet may contribute to abdominal fatness and high triglycerides, increasing risk of heart disease. Excess sugar in the diet (whether it comes from fruit or table sugar) is converted by the liver into stored fat in the body.

The bottom line is avoid processed foods high in sugar, HFCS and other sweeteners, and be moderate int the amount of fruit you eat. Remember – the recommendations of eating 6-9 fruits and vegetables a day- include vegetables (not just fruit!). The US Dietary Guidelines for Americans say to choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars. The USDA suggests adding sugars as discretionary calories only after meeting all nutrient recommendations with nutritious foods. The American Heart Association goes a step further and suggests to limit added sugars to no more than 100 calories for women, and 150 calories for men. The average person in the U.S. today consumes almost 3/4cup (31 teaspoons) of refined sugars in their food and beverages each day. This adds up to more than 140 pounds of sugar per year! How much sugar can you get rid of?

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