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Is Sugar in Fruit Bad for You?

can fruit sugar make you fat
Written by Health Coach Drew

You’re wanting to make changes to improve your health and perhaps lose a few extra pounds. You may have heard about the amazing health benefits of green smoothies and are interested in trying them to help you meet your health and weight loss goals.

But wait… what about the health risks associated with sugar?  Green smoothies contain a lot of fruit. Fruit is high in sugar. Is that going to create a risk for weight gain or diabetes?

This question comes up often. With all the information and misinformation out there about sugar and its harmful effects on the body, people are naturally concerned.

Clients often ask me:

  • “Is fruit sugar bad for me?”
  • “will the sugar from the fruit in my smoothie make me gain weight?”
  • “can all the sugar from the fruit in my smoothies increase my risk for diabetes?”

These are all good questions.  Let me set the record straight and clear up some of the confusion for you.

Is There a Difference Between Fructose in Processed Sugars and Fruit?

First, it’s important to note that there are no science based dietary guidelines that promote the reduction or elimination of fruit in your diet for the purpose of weight loss or to reduce the risk of diabetes. Quite the opposite is true.  Multitudes of peer reviewed scientific research show that an increased intake of fruit decreases risk of both obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

You may have seen the ad that came out a few years ago from the corn industry stating that sugar is sugar and your body doesn’t know the difference. As with any advertising, consider the source and the purpose.  High fructose corn syrup is in nearly every processed food out there, so when the public demands an end to this, the corn industry wants to protect itself and tell you that there’s no difference, so you will happily keep consuming its product.  But is that statement true?

Yes and no.

On a molecular level, there is no difference between the fructose in corn syrup and the fructose in fruit.

There is, however, a distinct difference in how your body responds to and processes those sugars.

Fresh fruits are high in fiber, vitamins, mineral and other nutrients that your body needs. They also contain glucose and sucrose in addition to fructose.  When you eat an apple or orange, your feeding your body essential nutrients that strengthen it and the fiber in the fruit slows the release of the sugars into your blood stream.

Processed foods, sodas, candy and other foods containing fructose do not contain the same quality of fiber and nutrients that are found in whole foods, so the sugar is released into the blood stream quickly.  This causes your blood sugar levels to spike and then later crash.  Processed foods tend to be high in sugar and fat, and are devoid of nutritional value. Unlike sugar from fresh fruit, these sugars can cause harm and lead to an increased risk for diabetes and other health conditions.

In fact, guidelines for sugar intake from health organizations like the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization refer specifically to added sugars and does not include naturally occurring sugars found in fresh fruits, vegetables and other whole foods.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published an article on the effects of fructose in the diet.  The author, Dr. David S. Ludwig concluded that “excessive intake of refined sugar plays a significant role in the epidemics of obesity and related diseases”, and further stated that “fructose in its primary from (whole foods) is not associated with adverse effects.”

(Ludwig DS, (2013) Examining the Health Effects of Fructose. Journal of the American Medical Association. 310(1): 33-34. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.6562.)

Can Fruit Cause Weight Gain?

Weight gain is caused by excessive calorie intake and your body’s ability to burn those calories efficiently. When you consume more energy (calories) than you burn, your body stores up the excess as fat and you gain weight.  So technically, fat, sugar and all the other things you’ve been told do not specifically cause weight gain. They certainly contribute to your calorie intake, but it is the balance of what you take in and what you burn that matters more. This is a bit more complex because what you eat can also effect the efficiency of your metabolism

Fruit does not cause weight gain.  Yes, it has sugar, but as we mentioned, it is healthy sugar that provides essential fiber and nutrients. Numerous studies have shown that people with a higher intake of fruit have a lower risk of obesity.

In 2004, the International Journal of Obesity published a 12-year study that showed people who increased their consumption of whole fruits and vegetables had a 24% lower risk of obesity compared to the participants that decreased consumption.

(He K, Hu FB, Colditz GA, Manson JE, Willet WC, Liu S. (2004) Changes in intake of fruits and vegetables in relation to risk of obesity and weight gain among middle-aged women. International Journal of Obesity. 28: 1569-1574. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802795)

Fruit is high in fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion and is an essential element to achieving and maintaining healthy weight. Green smoothies contain all the fiber and nutrient from the fruits and veggies you add, making them a perfect tool for your health and weight loss goals.

So here’s what you need to know

An abundance of scientific, peer reviewed studies have been conducted and unanimously conclude the same thing.  Naturally occurring sugars found in whole fruits, vegetables and grains is beneficial to your health and does not have the same adverse side effects as processed and refined sugar.

Fruit has been shown to have protective qualities that decrease your risk for diabetes and other major health risks.  The increased consumption of fresh fruit also decreases your risk for obesity.

All sugars are not made the same.  If you have concerns about adding green smoothies to your diet because of fruit sugars, you can rest assured knowing that there is a big difference between how your body processes fruit versus refined sugars. So, unless you have a health condition that requires you to closely monitor all forms of sugar intake, you can safely add green smoothies for losing weight.

Whether you are just trying to lose the last 5-10 lbs or you want to lose 30 lbs or more, I encourage you to watch this FREE video presentation and try my Smoothie Diet Program to see how effective smoothies for weight loss can be.

lose weight with smoothies

About the author

Health Coach Drew

HI, MY NAME IS DREW. I'm a certified health coach and nutrition expert. My goal is to take the confusion out of weight loss and healthy living and make it simple for everyone. Take The 21-Day Smoothie Diet Challenge

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