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Fruits Have Fructose. Should We Avoid Them?

On Tuesday, I wrote a post about sugar; the 60 Minute Report, whether sugar toxic, and my 3 take home messages from this craze.

Despite the critique that report received, I’m actually glad it’s getting all that attention. We eat too much sugar, it’s everywhere, and–toxic or not–it’s bad for your health.

If you read my Tuesday post, then you have an idea why sugars (all of them from table, to brown, to high fructose corn syrup, to molasses, to honey, to agave, etc) are not your best friends. Except for pure glucose or pure corn syrup, all sugars are have fructose, which can lead to obesity, heart disease, insulin resistance, and cancer.

Fruits Have Fructose

Fruits have fructose. Fructose is bad. Then fruits are bad.

Of course NOT!

Fruits are a completely different package. With fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, they don’t fit in the category of sugars to eliminate. Let’s stop at fiber.

Fruits Have Fiber

Fiber is associated with lowering the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It slows down the absorption of sugars, preventing a sharp spike in blood glucose and insulin levels. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and insoluble fiber lowers the risk of colon cancer. When fiber travels to the large intestines, it gets fermented by the healthy gut bacteria that live there, producing  a type of fatty acid called short-chain fatty acids. This is important because these fatty acids can increase the number of healthy gut bacteria over harmful ones, lower inflammation, raise the hormone that make you feel full (leptin), and lower the hormone that makes you feel hungry (ghrelin).

Eat fruits. Skip juices.

Fruit juices don’t have the fiber that balances out the fructose. Check this out: 1 orange (65 calories) has 3 grams of fiber to balance 13 g of sugar. One cup of OJ has 0 g of fiber to balance the 23 g of sugar. When you drink juice, you get a large dose of fructose to your liver. To get the same amount of fructose from fresh fruit, you’d have to eat 2 oranges, and most of us don’t eat 2 oranges at a time.

Is It Possible to Eat Too Much Fruit?

It is. It’s often recommended to eat 9 servings of fruits and vegetables for a variety of health reasons. If all or most these 9 servings come from fruit, then you should probably get acquainted with veggies! When I do corporate wellness counseling, I often talk to people who missed the ball there. I once met a guy who ate 2 bananas for breakfast, one more later in the afternoon, 3-4 more fruit servings throughout the day, and no veggies.

Take Home Messages:

  1. Eat real fruit, skip juices
  2. Aim for 4 servings of fruit a day (and 4-5 servings of veggies)
  3. If you must drink juice, limit to no more than 1 cup per day and choose juices with no added sugars (read ingredients)
  4. If you like to juice at home, blend instead. This way, you’ll drink some of the fiber.

Next Week:

I wanted to share 10 easy swaps to help you lower your intake of added sugars but I decided to stop at fruits and give them the respect they deserve. Come back Monday for that list.


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook April 15, 2012, 1:33 am

    Very informative post! Nowadays there are so many kids drinking juice instead of other healthier option. I tend to give fruits instead of snacks, but I have to remember it’s not good idea to give too much fruits either. Great post!

    • Nour Zibdeh April 15, 2012, 11:08 am

      Thanks Nami for stopping by. Yes, too much fruit juice is a bad idea. I think with fresh fruit, you have to put it into perspective. I see some kids who’s lunch only consists of fruits… not really balanced.

  • Peter April 16, 2012, 2:32 pm

    Hi, Nour. I visited the blog as I was researching sugar intake and was pleased to see such clear, science-based, unbiased presentation. I have added your blog to my RSS feeds.

    I visited because I am a major fruit eater. I’ve been a serious runner for years and quite lean, but in the past 7-8 years, with busy periods at work, our daughter, and work on house projects, I gradually slipped into eating more processed foods. My weight did increase, though others still thought of me as trim. This past summer, I moved back to more “real” food, quickly dropped about ten pounds, increased my mileage and speed, lowered my bp, and increased my resistance to colds/flu, etc. A lot of my diet is fruit (though it’s relatively balanced overall); now that I know some of the science, I’ll probably cut back some on fruit, and add more vegetables like celery.