Is the Sugar in Fruit Dangerous to My Health?
“Is Sugar Found In Fruit Bad? I heard bananas are bad for you because of the high amount of sugar, is this true?”
The short answer is NO. However, nutrition is highly individualized, so the answer is a bit more nuanced. To begin with, let’s take a look at the sugar content of fruit.
The sugars found in fruit are fructose, glucose, and sucrose. Fructose and glucose are monosaccharides, the basic building block of any carbohydrate. Sucrose is a disaccharide, composed of 2 monosaccharides. A sucrose molecule is composed of one molecule each of fructose and glucose.
The total sugars in any fruit (or vegetable) is the sum of the fructose, glucose, and sucrose found in the fruit. A banana has 12 grams of sugars, equal to 3 teaspoons. 5 grams are from fructose, 5 from glucose, and 2 from sucrose. The sugar found in fruit is known as natural sugar, not added sugar.
Let’s talk about fructose, a sugar of concern for some people. Although it is almost identical to glucose, fructose is metabolized primarily in the liver. Some research indicates that an excess in fructose consumption may lead to weight gain and insulin resistance as well.
A review of observational studies published in Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that increased fruit consumption is tied to lower body weight and a lower risk of obesity-related diseases. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, report the perfect combo of two fruit servings and three vegetable servings each day will add years to the human lifespan! A by-product of the study resulted in a new phrase that is catching on, known as the “5-a-day mix.”
Fruit does contain fructose and glucose but in small amounts. The key is that it also contains fiber, which slows down the absorption of sugars in the body. Fiber is one of the main reasons to eat fruit. Besides taming the effects of sugars, it helps promote satiety. Lastly, it improves the diversity of our gut microbiome. The fiber found in fruit is one of the key ingredients preventing a “sugar spike” as experienced when you eat too much added sugar like in junk food.
Increase Fruit Intake
Most people do no eat enough fruit. The recommended intake is 1.5–2 cups, yet less than 13 percent of Americans consume this amount. We’re talking about 2 fruits a day! A banana counts as one cup, as does a medium apple. Having a banana in the morning and an apple for an afternoon snack is not dangerous to your health. It’s good for you!
With that said, if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, your body is more sensitive to sugars of any type, even if ingested with fiber. In such cases, you should limit your fruit and sweet vegetables intake to focus more on leafy green vegetables. Always consult with your physician or a health professional if you are unsure.
Ludwig D. (2013). Examining the Health Effects of Fructose Journal of the American Medical Association, 310(1):33–34.
Wang, D., et al.(2021). Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Mortality. Circulation, 143:1642–1654.
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Originally published at https://www.jefit.com on August 9, 2022.