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Sugar in fruits part 2

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Fruit sugars vs refined sugar

Are sugars in fruits processed by the body in the same way as refined sugar? The answer is no. The majority of carbohydrates are broken down to glucose in the body which I discussed in my article on the Glycemic Index (Ask in Whelehans for a copy of this article). Refined sugar or table sugar (sucrose) is made up of fructose and glucose (two simple sugars); the sugars in fruit are dependent on the particular fruit (can be made up of glucose, sucrose and/or fructose). Yes the sugars found in refined sugar are the same but the absorption of fruit sugars depends on the chemical and plant structures and this is what causes it to be absorbed differently.

Fibre - Starch is another carbohydrate found in plants made up of glucose. How a particular fruit is digested depends on the presence of the plant cell wall. Fibre is present in the cell wall and is not broken down in the small intestine. The more fibre present in fruit the slower the digestion process; digestion of refined sugar is quicker as it doesn’t contain fibre. The large intestine breaks down the fibre and helps with bowel movements and metabolism. When fruit is processed by stewing (eg. making into smoothies or juiced) the cell wall is destroyed and the fibre content of the fruit is reduced. This is why as previously discussed last week, drinking juices provides you with more sugar and provides none of the benefits fibre offers.

Refined sugar - Refined sugar contributes hugely to obesity and other chronic diseases, in part due to the fast rate of metabolism, how it never fills you up and the lack of beneficial nutrients. Refined sugar is converted to glucose and fructose very quickly in the body and causes a rapid spike in blood sugar levels giving you an almost instant sugar rush. If this increased energy is not used straight away then the body may convert it to fat. Refined sugar never gives you the feeling of fullness and this in turn can cause binging on other unhealthy foods.

How sugary is fruit?

These are the most commonly consumed fruits the grams provided is the amount of sugar present within each:

Apple 12g

Apricot 6.6g

Apricot dried 18.2g

Banana (medium) 21g

Blackberries (10 -12) 4.33g

Blueberries (10 -12) 1.35g

Cherries (10-12) 8.72g

Grapefruit (1/2) 8.93g

Grapes (10 -12) 7.74g

Kiwi fruit 6.83g

Mango 25g

Melon (1/8 medium melon) 5.42g

Nectarine 8g

Orange 12g

Papaya 12g

Passion fruit 11.2g

Peach 8.7g

Pear 17g

Pinapple 1 slice 16g

Plum 7g

Raisins (10 – 12) 3.08g

Raspberries (10-12) 0.84g

Strawberries (10-12) 8.39g

Sultanas (10-12) 3.05g

 By consuming your 2-3 portions of fruit a day (as part of your five a day which should also include vegetables) you will avoid overconsumption of sugar and obtain essential vitamins and minerals. This will keep your body functioning to the best of its ability. I recommend including at least one portion of vitamin C rich fruit each day such as an orange, pineapple, kiwi, strawberries or blackberries. Vitamin C is an antioxidant needed for formation of collagen which holds cells together and needed for healthy teeth, gums and blood vessels. It improves iron absorption (needed to transport oxygen aroud the body thus helping our energy levels) and resistance to infection. 

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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