Could you ever imagine eating a healthy, balanced diet that is entirely void of fruit? Sounds almost counter intuitive, doesn't it? After all, fruit contains vital minerals and nutrients that our body needs. Last week, a friend mentioned that someone had told him the apples he regularly ate throughout the day will do nothing but get stored as fat in his stomach. Before you roll your eyes and say "no way," there is actually a little truth behind that statement.
Apples, and all fruits contain the fruit sugar called fructose. Fructose is a little different than other forms of sugar like glucose (table sugar) in that the preferential form of storage is as fat. Fructose is metabolized in the liver. Since our liver can only hold so much "energy" at one time, anything excess gets stored as fat via triglycerides. Thus excessive fructose has been shown to elevate triglyceride levels. Too much fruit sugar has also been linked to insulin resistance and midsection fat storage.
The optimum word here is excessive. If you're a healthy individual with no history of high triglycerides, obesity, diabetes or other metabolic disorders, eating a couple servings of fruit a day should be no problem. That said, some fruits contain more fructose than others. As it turns out, apples actually do contain a good amount of metabolic fructose, as do bananas, grapes, mangos and pears. The amount of fructose in these fruits, however, pale in comparison to raisins, dates, currants and honey.
Generally speaking, red apples, grapes, magos, pears and bananas are all higher on the glycemic index and contain more fructose. Fruits that are lower on the glycemic index, like green apples, berries, lemons, cherries, guava and grapefruit contain less fructose.
Is fruit really that bad?
No, but high fructose corn syrup is.
The real culprit in a healthy person's diets isn't fruit, but high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a tricked out and completely unhealthy type of sugar that contains 55% fructose (that's a lot and more than any fruit). Before cutting out fruit or fearing the apples you eat, take a good look at the ingredient labels on the foods you eat. If it contains HFCS, put it back and buy something that does not contain it. I can't emphasize this enough.
- Given the science behind how harsh fructose can be on our bodies in terms of fat storage and triglyceride elevation, choosing fruits that are lower on the glycemic index would be helpful. Here is a glycemic index calculator that will give you an idea of how much sugar the foods you eat contain.
- Eat a couple servings of fruit a day, but don't over eat it.
- Avoid HFCS at all costs. Even the highest sugar fruits (like raisins and other dehydrated fruit) are much lower in fructose than high fructose corn syrup.
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