A new piece in The Journal of the American Medical Association said that Americans are consuming too much sugar, which is a large factor in the nation's obesity problem as well as other health problems. Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital and author of the perspective piece in the journal, said that many are avoiding fruits while trying to remove sugar from their diets.
The sugar found in fresh fruit is not linked to adverse health effects, Ludwig said in the paper. Observational studies have shown that increasing fruit consumption is related to lower body weight and a lower risk of developing obesity-related diseases.
According to Ludwig, whole fruits have a plethora of antioxidants and healthful nutrients. The cellular scaffolding in fruits is made of fiber and helps you to feel full while also providing other metabolic benefits. Ludwig provided the example of an apple and said the fiber in the fruit will help your body slow down its absorption of fructose. However, adding healthy sugars to non-healthy foods won't make them good for you.
"You can't just take an 8-ounce glass of cola and add a serving of Metamucil and create a health food," Ludwig said. "Even though the fructose-to-fiber ratio might be the same as an apple, the biological effects would be much different."
Benefits of consuming fruit
When you eat fruit, the sugars in the fruit's cells are slowly digested. So, when they enter your bloodstream at a slower rate, the liver will have more time to metabolize the fruit cells. Although you may find the same amount of sugars in four apples as in 24 ounces of soda, the rate at which your body absorbs the sugar in the apples will be slower and prevent a surge in blood sugar.
Your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases when your body is repeatedly exposed to surges in blood sugar because it makes the pancreas work harder and contribute to insulin resistance.
Because fruits can make us feel fuller, we're less likely to overeat. Fiber-rich food moves through the digestive tract slower because it takes so long to be broken down. The slow rate at which the fruit is digested allows for satiety hormones to be triggered.
Although Ludwig doesn't favor any one fruit over the other, it's best to include a variety of fruits in your diet to get the maximum amount of benefits.