Is Your Fruit Habit Unhealthy?

Trinh Le, MPH, RD
by Trinh Le, MPH, RD
Share it:
Is Your Fruit Habit Unhealthy?

Low-carb and low-sugar have overtaken low-fat in popularity, according to Google trends for the past decade. Today, you know too much sugar won’t do any favors for your physical or mental health. And fruit, often touted as nature’s candy, can be first on the chopping block. Here, a look at three common claims surrounding the sugar in fruit — and what you need to know before you reach for your next banana.

A large banana, at 17 grams of sugar, has almost as much sugar as a Kit Kat Bar (22 grams). However, the nutrition label paints an incomplete picture — you see total sugar but not added sugar, which is the kind health advocates say should be limited. Fresh fruit has zero added sugar. It’s also packed with valuable nutrients like vitamins A, C, folate, potassium, fiber and other antioxidants.

Fruit contains fructose, a type of sugar that’s processed exclusively by the liver. Eating too much fructose in a short time frame can be harmful since the liver converts it into fat and stores it. A buildup of too much fat can cause fatty liver. While that might sound scary, it’s harder to unintentionally OD on fructose than you think. The liver won’t turn fructose into fat unless certain requirements are met. You’d have to surpass your calorie goal, eat a high percentage of those calories from fructose and do this regularly. A meta-analysis found adults eating 100–150 grams of fructose per day increased their blood triglycerides, a sign that precedes fatty liver.

The reality is we eat much less fructose, averaging just 55 grams per day. To put that in perspective, 100 grams of fructose would mean you’d need to consume 10 apples, 18 bananas or 44 peaches.

True. It doesn’t matter if glucose (aka sugar) comes from soda or an orange — they both spike blood sugar. In a healthy individual, it’s normal for blood sugar to rise after eating carbs. The body releases insulin to bring it back to regular levels. Blood sugar isn’t a good reason to equate oranges to soda unless you have insulin resistance or diabetes, in which case you might need to limit your fruit intake.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Don’t ignore the evidence that fruit helps with weight control, heart disease, diabetes and more. Rather than obsessing over the sugar in fruit, focus on eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes a mix of colors and food groups and minimizes added sugar. For example, instead of adding a ton of fruit to your smoothies, make sure you also have a green like spinach or kale, a source of protein and healthy fats.

About the Author

Trinh Le, MPH, RD
Trinh Le, MPH, RD
Trinh is a registered dietitian by day, blogger at Fearless Food RD by night. She loves helping folks develop a better relationship with food, which includes lots of cooking, eating and learning about nutrition. When she’s not snapping mouthwatering shots of (mostly) healthy food, you can find Trinh HIIT-ing it at her local gym. For more, connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

Related

4 responses to “Is Your Fruit Habit Unhealthy?”

  1. Avatar . says:

    I eat about 7 pieces of fruit a day and have done for years and it’s helped stay lean so personally I don’t see the problem with it. If anything we should be encouraging people to eat more of it!

  2. Avatar Luci says:

    I was expecting a very different article based on the title. The only thing I would add is all not all calories, and not all sugars are equal. I love fruit and can eat a lot if it. Fruit has fiber, pop and candy don’t. I am able to maintain a healthy weight as well. Dropping things like pop and processed foods has been huge. This article is a good read. For me the key is knowing what is good for me and my body, it makes informed healthy choices easier to make!

  3. We all know that eating fruits are good for health but after reading some recent research you may get shock. Thanks for sharing such an important health news. As you may know that added sugars are bad for health and the similar things apply on fruits which also contain fructose. Read this wonderful post to know more about fruit facts and focus on balanced and healthy diet.

  4. Avatar Ben says:

    Wow I always expected fruit to be more healthy haha! Ive been wanting to lose weight for the longest time! I’ve checked out this red tea place. Any thoughts guys?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.

Great!

Click the 'Allow' Button Above

Awesome!

You're all set.