Gnaw­ing Ques­tions: Is Sugar From Fruit The Same As Sugar From Candy?

La Semana - - TEMAS -

crose," or "ta­ble sugar." But the sug­ars in fruit are packed less densely than in a candy bar, ac­cord­ing to Elvira Is­ganaitis, a pe­di­atric en­docri­nol­o­gist at Joslin Di­a­betes Cen­ter and a Har­vard Med­i­cal School in­struc­tor. This dif­fer­ence is im­por­tant for peo­ple with di­a­betes, a dis­or­der which in­ter­feres with reg­u­lat­ing sugar in the blood. When peo­ple eat some­thing sweet, they usu­ally have a spike in blood sugar lev­els. Then the spike plateaus and the amount of sugar in the blood even­tu­ally drops back to nor­mal. Fruits gen­er­ally cause a lower spike than sweets, Is­ganaitis says, mak­ing it less dan­ger­ous for peo­ple with di­a­betes mon­i­tor­ing their sugar lev­els.

But even for peo­ple with­out di­a­betes, sugar in fruit is a health­ier op­tion than sugar from other sources, ac­cord­ing to nu­tri­tion­ist Wright. A can of soda, for ex­am­ple, has about 40 grams of sugar. "And what else are you get­ting with that?" Wright asks. "You're get­ting no pro­tein, no min­er­als and no fiber. You get noth­ing but the sugar and the calo­ries."

A serv­ing of fruit, by con­trast, usu­ally con­tains no more than 20 grams of sugar, has fiber and has nu­tri­ents like vi­ta­min C. As Wright puts it: "You're get­ting a lot of bang for your buck." And fiber and lower sugar amounts can also de­crease sugar spikes in blood lev­els.

That doesn't mean there aren't pos­si­ble pit­falls for fruit freaks. Dried fruits, Wright says, tend to pack more sugar into a bite be­cause they're so con­cen­trated. She ad­vises peo­ple with di­a­betes in par­tic­u­lar to con­sume dried fa­vorites with cau­tion.

Both Wright and Is­ganaitis also warn that smooth­ies can com­mit sugar sab­o­tage. That goes for juices, too. "I have a lit­tle bit of a bee in my bon­net about fruit juices, be­cause they re­ally mas­quer­ade as a health food," says Is­ganaitis, "but you can get a whop­ping dose of glu­cose [and calo­ries]." She ad­vises that peo­ple eat whole foods, in­clud­ing fruits, and steer clear of pro­cessed foods, es­pe­cially those sweet­ened with high-fruc­tose corn syrup, con­cen­trated ap­ple juice, or the like.

Sim­i­larly, Wright ad­vises smoothie lovers make smooth­ies at home and throw in some veg­eta­bles.

Wright says she hopes peo­ple with di­a­betes in par­tic­u­lar are not fright­ened off fruit by warn­ings about added sugar in other types of food. As for her­self, Wright fre­quently eats fruit at her home in Florida: "I live in the Sun­shine State, and you may think my fa­vorite is or­anges, but ac­tu­ally, we have won­der­ful blue­ber­ries."

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