Relax, grab an apple and lets talk about the fructose in fruit for a moment as it has stirred up a fair bit of controversy with widespread ‘fruit fears’. Comments like “which fruit is more/less fatty?” are irrelevant. So let’s clear the air together.
Arguments against eat fruit go like this:
“Fruit contains fructose.
I’ve heard fructose turns to fat in your liver,
Therefore I should not eat fruit”.
Like so many other areas of nutrition – it is not quite so simple as this.
So, lets start by discussing what fructose actually is.
Fructose is a naturally occurring carbohydrate; a monosacharride. Other monosaccharides include glucose and galactose. Lactose (in milk) is a disaccharide, consisting of glucose and galactose. Sucrose (in table sugar) is also a disaccharide, consisting of glucose and fructose.
When you eat fructose it gets absorbed and is metabolised, primarily in the liver. Fructose is an intermediary in the metabolism of glucose, but there is no biological need for dietary fructose. When you consume too much fructose it can be stored as fat because it’s metabolism favours lipogenesis (the creation of fat).
The fructose in natural fruits does not have the same adverse effects as eating excess “industrial fructose” like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – which is present in a lot of processed foods.
Why? because fruits contain very little fructose compared to processed foods. Most of the fructose that is in peoples diet nowadays does not come from fresh fruit but rather from highly processed foods and drinks. Unlike refined, processed foods, fruit is in its original form where the fructose is naturally accompanied by vitamins, minerals, fiber and numerous compounds with antioxidant properties including vitamins C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols! The problem is when fructose is refined (as in the case of “industrial fructose”) because in those circumstances ALL you have is refined sugar — without any of the wonderful things.
In fact, evidence suggests that the protective role for fruits in cancer prevention is substantial. The strength of this evidence supports policymakers around the globe to create various public health programs that seek to increase fruit consumption among their population. There is also evidence that fruits offer a protective role in the prevention of coronary heart disease and growing research is now being conducted for its’ preventative role in stroke, cataract formation and diverticulosis development.
Fruit is fine, deliciously tasty and great for your health! Fructose, by itself (found in processed foods), isn’t. It would be nearly impossible to consume so much fructose from fruit that you damage your liver and become “fat”.
So don’t fear fruit. You can and should, enjoy all the fresh fruit you want! Most people don’t eat enough. If it comes from the earth – eat it. Instead of worrying about if fruit will make you fat think about all the other amazing vitamins and minerals that it can offer your body. It is the processed rubbish that we need to look out for and avoid.
Images sourced via pinterest. Authors unknown.