When it comes to diet and nutrition, fruit often gets a bad rap because of its sugar contents, but is sugar from fruit the same as white sugar?
Yes and no.
The molecular structure of sugar (sucrose) always made up of the same two components, fructose and glucose, regardless of whether it comes from fruit, soda or cookies. There’s some variation in the ratios of fructose and glucose in fruits (apples have 65 percent fructose whereas cranberries have 20 percent).
But because the makeup of the sugar is the same in cake and fruit doesn’t mean they are interchangeable, and it also doesn’t mean fruit is bad for you. We asked Bob Seebohar, longtime coach and nutritionist to Linda Quirk, Runwell’s founder and ultramarathoner about the sugar in fruit versus regular ol’ table sugar.
“Fruit provides a wealth of other ingredients that promote better blood sugar control and overall health, including fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. People often compare sugar with sugar, but it’s important to look beyond the sugar content, and instead look at the food as a whole.”
Fiber, which is in just about every fruit, slows down your body’s digestion of glucose, which eliminates the insulin spike that candy causes. The slower digestion of glucose also means that your body has more of a chance to use the glucose as fuel, before storing it as fat.
So there you have it folks, fruit isn’t bad for you because of its sugar content. Even though the molecular structure of table sugar and fructose is basically the same, fruit has a host of vitamins, minerals, fiber and water that the body benefits from. Here’s a short list of 18 fruits that are really, really good for you:
Apples contain antioxidants called flavonoids, which may help lower the chance of developing diabetes and asthma. Apples are also a natural mouth freshener, each crunchy bite cleans your teeth.
With about 422 milligrams of potassium per banana, these easily packable fruit have more potassium than most fruit and may help lower blood pressure levels. They’re a favorite in the running community.
Blackberries get their deep purple color from the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, which may help reduce the risk of stroke and cancer. Studies show that blackberry extract may even help stop the growth of lung cancer cells.
Blueberries contain the highest fruit antioxidant activity when compared to a host of other fresh fruits and vegetables. Blueberries may help lower the risk of developing many age-related diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Cantaloupe is high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Also, it’s a great food if you’re trying to keep it light since it has about half the calories compared to most other fruits.
Sour cherries contain more of the potent antioxidant anthocyanin than any other fruit. Anthocyanin may help reduce inflammation and ease the pain of arthritis and gout.
Cranberries are antibacterial and studies have indicated that they can help treat and prevent urinary tract infections. Recent research has also linked cranberries to the prevention of kidney stones and ulcers.
Goji berries are a nutrient powerhouse, containing six vitamins, 21 minerals and a slew of antioxidants. They have been linked to the prevention of diabetes and cancer, but more research is needed to fully understand their effects.
Grapes contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that may help prevent heart disease by reducing blood pressure levels and lowering the risk of blood clots. Resveratrol may also help stop the spread of breast, stomach and colon cancer cells.
Pink grapefruit contains lycopene and flavonoids, which may help protect against some types of cancer. Grapefruit also boasts an ample supply of pectin, a soluble fiber that may help lower cholesterol levels.
With more vitamin C than oranges, kiwis can help in the development and maintenance of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. They can also help lower blood triglyceride levels (high triglycerides increase the risk of heart disease).
Mangos are high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect vision and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in adults).
Oranges are a good source of folate, an important vitamin for pregnant women that can help prevent neural tube defects in their infants. They also contain a phytochemical called hesperidin, which may lower triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels.
Papayas contain papain, which is an enzyme that aids digestion. Also, their high vitamin A content aids in maintaining the skin health.
Much of the fiber found in pears is soluble, which can help prevent constipation. Soluble fiber may also help reduce blood cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.
Pineapple contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which breaks down protein and helps aid digestion. Bromelain may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit growth of cancer cells and speed wound healing.
Pomegranates contain antioxidant tannins, which may protect the heart. Studies show that daily consumption of pomegranate juice may promote normal blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Prunes are a source of the mineral boron, which may help prevent osteoporosis. Prunes also impart a mild laxative effect due to their high content of a natural sugar called sorbitol.