Posted by Dayne Hudson in Health / Nutrition
Estimated reading time: 5mins
It's quite incredible that untruths like this can be spread; confusing the public into what is healthy and what isn't.
So where does it all stem from?
Blame it on the sugar bashing. Because sugar is made up of a glucose molecule and a fructose molecule (called sucrose) people started seeking notoriety by saying that fruit, which contains fructose (aka fruit sugar) is also bad.
For starters, sugar is NOT the evil and toxic devil it can be made out to be, as detailed scientifically within this Bulk Nutrients article: Gimme some sugar... or maybe don't?.
And that goes for fructose too, particularly given the context in which it's found within fruit.
Firstly, fructose has been found to suppress our appetites. The notion it causes us to overeat and gain weight is bogus.
The studies that linked fructose to overeating in humans... were actually done in rats. Like this one, that gave subjects 30% of their daily intake from FREE fructose.
And here's the problem; free fructose is near impossible to consume in our diets.
In sugar, fructose is not "free fructose", it comes with a molecule of glucose as we discussed. And in fruit, fructose comes with fibre.
And the fact that fructose within fruit comes with fibre means it is delivered to your liver so slowly that it IS NOT hazardous to your health. The fibre essentially slows down the delivery of fructose.
Moreover, an extensive review in 2014 declared:
"Based on a thorough review of the literature, we demonstrate that fructose, as commonly consumed in mixed carbohydrate sources, does not exert specific metabolic effects that can account for an increase in body weight."
And another study in 2020 further showed what a fallacy the "fruit is unhealthy and makes you fat" line of thinking is.
The researchers put healthy humans on 150 grams of fructose per day for 8 weeks to see what would happen!
And what did they find?
NO increases in body fat, no increase in fat deposition in the liver, and they didn't eat any more calories (ie, it didn't make them hungrier).
Of course, very few people will actually have 150 grams of fructose per day. For context, an apple contains only 2 grams of fibre!
But if we did consume that much fructose, the researchers noted: "...young, metabolically healthy subjects can at least temporarily compensate for increased fructose intake."
So that's a little bit of what WON'T happen if you eat fruit. But what about the potential benefits if you DO eat fruit?
Fruit contains a lot of vitamins, particularly vitamins C and A, minerals, electrolytes, and antioxidants, and thus an important part of a healthy diet.
Moreover, fruit contains a lot of fibre, which is important for optimal health. Research shows adequate fibre reduces our risk for developing:
- Coronary heart disease
Here are some fruits and their total fibre content:
- Apple, unpeeled - 2.0 grams
- Kiwi - 3.39 grams
- Mango - 1.80 grams
- Pineapple - 1.20 grams
- Pomegranate - 0.60 grams
- Watermelon - 0.50 grams
- Grapes - 1.2 grams
- Oranges - 1.8 grams
- Plums - 1.6 grams
- Strawberry - 2.2 grams
- Bananas - 1.7 grams
- Peach - 1.9 grams
- Pear - 3.0 grams
And how much fibre do we need? New recommendations state 50 grams per day.
Moreover, the fibre within fruit can also help us lose weight, due to the following:
- Fibre delays the time for food to pass through your stomach, thus keeping you full
- It encourages the growth of a more favourable gut microbiome, which is linked to lower long-term weight gain
- Scientists declare fibre allows for "an increased ease of weight loss".
The bottom line is that fruit is healthy and is NOT bad for us. The studies into fructose (found within fruit) that caused humans to overeat, were out of context. They were done with free fructose that isn't found in either sugar or fruit, due to fruit's additional fibre.
Healthy young subjects can have up to 150 grams of fructose a day with no obvious health or weight complications. Fruit boasts many vitamins, particularly vitamins C and A, minerals, electrolytes, antioxidants, and fibre, which helps us prevent many diseases, help us lose weight, and might help us age better, too.
Fruit is not unhealthy by any measurement and should play a key role in a diet aimed to maximise health.