Monday, March 13, 2017

Myth: Sugar that comes from fruit is healthier than other sugar

Love fresh juices?

Who doesn't? A few days ago, a friend of mine told me about this great refrigerated juice he found in the store with no additives - nothing but fruit juices. I asked him to check the sugar content since he said he had not. When he look did look at the bottle there were 36 grams of sugar in the juice - more sugar than recommended daily allowance for men.  We love juices because they are so high in sugar. So while you get high doses of water-soluble nutrients in juices, nutrients that need to be replenished at least once daily, you also get a sugar load as high or higher than having a Coke or a candy bar!

But isn't juice healthy because it comes from the fruit itself?

Juices are not whole foods. The sugar in fruit is not healthier than other sugar we consume from other sources when it is separated from the whole fruit. When we eat whole fibrous fruits designed in nature for a slower sugar release due to the intact fiber, the food is consumed more slowly and we are still able to digest and absorb nutrients we need. When the fiber is "processed" by a blender or juicer, the fibrous fruit cells are broken down and do not slow sugar absorption. Furthermore, we don't generate the enzymes in saliva by chewing for digestion.

Adding to the confusion is new labeling of "added sugars" for those sugars not in the natural food itself. The intention of the labeling was to call out the addition of sugars for taste in a product. This added sugar is often excessive as we gradually acclimate to higher and higher levels for the same level of satisfaction. Awareness of the sugar that manufacturers add to our products is the first step to help us make changes in our diet for health. The good news here is that if we gradually eat less sugar, our taste buds become more sensitive to lower levels of sugar and we acclimate to these lower levels without detection.

Four ounces, a half of a small juice glass is the daily adult serving. Stick to the recommended serving by watering the juice down and drink it as part of a meal or as a flavoring to yogurt or other foods or dishes.

Juicing is fine for athletes who are rapidly losing fluids, need quick energy to burn right away before exercise and for those who need calories as well as energy because their caloric requirements are high so they sugar is used for energy immediately. For the rest of us, it's just dessert.

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About Me

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers, I'm back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so, there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. If they buy impulsively, that's what they will see more of. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make and stick to better food choices that you enjoy. You'll gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions for healthful food and food practices you can happily embody and embrace!