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Sugar in Fruit | HabitWall

Sugar in Fruit: Is sugar in fruit bad for you?


In this video I read from a section in Dr. Greger's 'How Not to Diet' book, titled 'What About All the Sugar in Fruit?'

Main Points:

  • - Seventeen people were made to eat 20 servings of fruit per day for up to 6 months. Despite their extraordinarily high fructose intakes -- presumably the equivalent of drinking about eight cans of soda a day -- the investigators found the subjects actually lost weight and their blood pressures improved, insulin levels dropped, and cholesterol and triglycerides got better.
  • - People lost more weight with extra fruit in their diet -- meaning more fructose as well -- compared to the same diet without the fruit and its inherent fructose content. 
  • - Conclusion: The idea that you will gain weight from eating fruit because of its sugar content seems preposterous (see post on calorie density for more on this).

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Excerpt as read in video above (pg. 247-249 'How Not to Diet'):

Fruit's influence on obesity has been called a paradoxical effect thanks to its sugar content. Fruit contains sugars such as fructose, which is also found in table sugar and corn syrup. If sugar is bad for us, how is fruit so good for us?

If you directly compare the effects of a diet restricting fructose, from both added sugars and fruit to one that only restricts fructose from added sugars, the diet that kept the fruit did better. People lost more weight with the extra fruit present in the diet than when all fructose was restricted across the board.

Is it just the dose? To get the average intake of added sugars in the American diet and fruit form, you'd have to eat about six and a half cups of apple slices a day, or nearly eight cups of watermelon. Even if you did, though, it wouldn't have the same effect as getting the same amount of sugar from processed sources. As the Harvard Health Letter put it, the problems associated with fructose and sugar in general "come when they're added to foods." Fruit, on the other hand, is not just harmless, but described as "beneficial in almost any amount." Almost any amount? Can we eat 10 servings of fruit a day? How about 20? That's actually been put to the test.

Seventeen people were made to eat twenty servings of fruit a day for up to six months. Despite their extraordinarily high fructose intakes -- presumably the equivalent of drinking about eight cans of soda a day -- the investigators found the subjects actually lost weight and their blood pressures improved, insulin levels dropped, and cholesterol and triglycerides got better. This is the opposite of what one might expect eating the same amount of fructose and added sugars. Why do our bodies handle the sugars in fruit differently from the sugars added to foods and beverages?

[Casey commentary: So the author goes on to conclude that when you have remnants of the fruit itself included in whatever you're ingesting, whether it be food or in the case he was giving it was juice, your body will treat whatever you're eating so long as it has fruit in them in a much better way than had it not had any remnants of the fruit in it. And I'll read you a part of this study that he summarized to illustrate my point, but technically it's the point that he made in his book so here it is...]

We can finally explain why some juices are better than others. Cloudy apple juice has more polyphenols (which by the way is just an antioxidant) which may help explain my whole apples lower cholesterol compared to clear apple juice but not compared to cloudy apple juice. Have people drink cups of cloudy apple juice every day and they lose body fat compared to a polyphenol-free control beverage with the same number of calories.

End of excerpt