Sugars in Fruit

Many of us who are trying to lose body fat still continue to eat fruit. Whilst fruit has large amounts of vitamins and minerals, it also contains high amounts if sugar, some more than others, and so can hamper your fat loss results considerably.

When we eat sugar (sucrose) it is broken down into glucose and fructose which are absorbed into the blood stream, increasing the blood glucose.

At only 4 calories per gram, the sucrose can cause a variety of health issues from dental cavities to obesity, as any extra glucose that the body is unable to utilise is stored in the liver as glycogen and the fructose part is processed by the liver and stored as fat.

Ever since caveman times, humans have snacked on seasonal fruit and berries containing sugar, in small quantities when they could find these foods. In these limited quantities, humans still gained antioxidants and nutrients, as well as gaining energy for their active lifestyles.

Processed foods containing refined sugars are different. We are not designed to consume large quantities of sugars, and especially not processed sugars. Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus), high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome can result.

When embarking on a fat loss food plan or even when looking to maintain your weight, it is sensible to limit the uptake of sugars including fructose and thus limit fruit to once or twice a day, and preferably with proteins to aid the uptake of protein by the body.

Just looking at the glycaemic index which measures the speed at which glucose is released into the bloodstream, we can see that certain fruits can be very high in sugars, in comparison with vegetables below.

  • Dried fruits        -103
  • Watermelon      -72
  • Pineapple            -66
  • Raisins                  -64
  • Apricots               -57
  • Mangoes             -56
  • fruit cocktail       -55
  • banana                 -53
  • kiwi fruit              -53
  • grapes                  -52
  • canned peaches  –47
  • oranges                 -43
  • peaches                -42
  • blueberries          -40
  •  plums                   -39
  • pears                     -36
  • apples                   -36
  • strawberries        -32
  • raspberries          -32
  • blackberries        -32
  • dried apricots     -30
  • grapefruit            -25
  • cherries                -22

In comparison with vegetables:

  • sweetcorn          – 55
  • green peas          -48
  • carrots,cooked   -39
  • green beans        -15
  • peppers               -15
  • spinach                -15
  • tomatoes            – 15
  • artichoke             -15
  • asparagus            -15
  • broccoli                -15
  • cauliflower          -15
  • celery                    -15
  • cucumber            -15
  • lettuce                  -15

Fresh ripe fruit taste sweeter than under ripe fruits due to having a higher level of sucrose which increases during the ripening period.

Hence greener bananas for example, have less sucrose then blacker ripe bananas. This is due to an enzyme called sucrose phosphate which increases during the ripening period, synthesising sucrose in the fruit.

Dried fruit is more concentrated and contains more sucrose per gram than fresh.

Many fruits contain very low levels of sucrose, either having a low sugar content overall or containing more glucose and fructose as individual sugar molecules rather than linked in the disaccharide.

Ideally low GI fibrous fruits such as apples and pears increase satiety and are very beneficial for health. More sugary fruits high in GI such as grapes are good as a treat. Bananas and dried fruits are great after a hard training session with a scoop of unflavoured natural protein shake as they have plenty of sucrose. Cherries and berries are a good way to perk up a bowl of porridge in the morning, and will help the absorption of the protein if eaten with a handful of nuts and seeds.

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