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Sugar in fruits

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Healthy Eating

with Aisling Murray from Whelehans Pharmacy

Most of us know the benefits of fruits; they contain essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Fruit is advertised as a super healthy food and eating at least 2-3 portions a day is encouraged. However the type of fruit you select is important as many varieties can be very high in sugar.  The sugar in fruit is natural (fructose is the main sugar in fruit), but too much sugar regardless of the source can have negative effects. Try to familiarise yourself with the fruits containing the highest levels of sugar and ensure you do not over-consume them. 


Is fruit making you to put on weight?

According to EU food legislation, an average adult consuming 2000 calories should be eating no more than 90g of sugar daily. Depending on the fruit selected you could be consuming upwards of 36 grams of sugar (fructose) a day. Fruit can have three times the amount of calories when compared with vegetables; this is not a reason to get alarmed as they are still a relatively low calorie food choice. Fruit by itself will not make you put on weight but too many high sugary fruits can increase fat stored around your belly. There are a number of scientific studies which claim that excessive fructose consumption can lead to insulin resistance and fat gain around the abdomen.  I have mentioned in a prior article in the Examiner (Not losing weight and eating healthy) how too much fruit can lower insulin release which in turn can lower the circulating hormone leptin, a hormone responsible for the feeling of fullness.  This increases hunger pangs leading to potential to consume more calories in a day then desired. So, fruit does not make you gain weight but the excess foods eaten as a result of increased hunger can.

Sugar content of fruit

Apart from sugar, fruit contains many healthy components including water, fibre, phytochemicals and other essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are vital in protecting the body from diseases and improving overall health and wellbeing. No one can argue that an apple is a better snack choice than a chocolate bar.

 The majority of calories in fruit are supplied by carbohydrates in the form of fructose. It is important to distinguish between the sugars found in fruits and what is found in the empty calories we eat in processed food. I use an orange as an example to my clients; an orange contains about 12 grams of sugar (13% of your RDA sugar) and a glass of a generic brand of orange juice contains 22g (24% of RDA) of sugar. When you eat the orange you are not only consuming the sugars but getting added benefits of fibre, a full day supply of vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium and folic acid. The orange only contains about 60 calories and the glass of orange juice about 110 calories. Sticking to 2-3 portions of fruit daily and avoiding processed foods will mean you don’t consume excess sugars.                                                    

Smoothies and sugar

Smoothies are obviously a healthier than a can of cola; however shockingly smoothies can contain the same amount if not more sugar than your average 330ml can of coke. A can of coke contains 35g of sugar and an average (350ml) smoothie can contain between 24g - 48g of sugar. The reason there is more sugar in the smoothie is due to the blending process the fruit undergoes. By breaking down the fruit (squeezing, blending, pulsing) you are reducing the fibre and vitamin C content and releasing the sugars locked inside the fruit. Smoothies should only be consumed as an occasional treat. Instead of making smoothies with 100% fruits, add in some leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. 

 Whelehans Nutrition Service

Whelehans nutritional service is a private one to one advice service with our nutritionist Aisling Murray. Aisling’s areas of interest include weight loss management, nutrition education and food intolerance. Our nutrition service offers you the chance to change your life in a positive way by focusing on your overall wellbeing as well as the chance to follow up on your progress.

Aisling Murray has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and offers a one to one specialist nutrition service at Whelehans Pharmacy. Call Whelehans at 04493 34591 for an appointment


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