There is a lot of debate these days on the merit of fruit consumption. I am constantly asked if it is ok to eat fruit. So is it?
Fruit sugar versus refined sugar
Is there a difference in eating fruit sugar and refined sugar? Does the body handle it differently? The answer is yes, and here’s how.
Most fruits are 40 to 55 percent fructose and table sugar is 50/50. However, your body processes them differently. Fructose breaks down in your liver and doesn’t provoke an insulin response. Glucose starts to break down in the stomach and requires the release of insulin into the bloodstream to be metabolized completely.
Fruit is also full of great nutrition including vitamins, antioxidants, water and fibre. The fibre in fruit helps slow the digestion process and doesn’t create the insulin spike that you get from other sugars. Due to the slower process your body has time to digest and use the sugars so it is not stored as fat straight away. This is due to the fibre in fruit expanding in your gut, allowing you to feel satisfied and full. This fibre is the key benefit and difference in the sugars as it is the slowing down in the digestion that makes all the difference.
What about dried fruit?
Dried fruit is still fruit, the only difference being that all the moisture has been removed. It still contains all the minerals, vitamins and nutrients, just no water. It also retains all the fibre which is great to know.
Sugar and our brains
The other difference between fruit and refined sugar is the effect it has on our brains. Refined sugar creates a chemical response that leaves us wanting more whereas fruit doesn’t have the same effect on us. You can’t eat endless amounts of apples in comparison to the amount of biscuits or cake you can eat. The pleasure centres that are lit up in our brain leave us wanting more and more so it is an endless cycle and destructive for our health.
Where to from here?
If you are craving a sweetener it is better to choose a natural type that will be digested slowly and better for your health.
Below are some options:
- Rice malt syrup. Brown rice syrup is a sweetener derived from brown rice. They make it by exposing cooked rice to enzymes that break down the starches and turn them into smaller sugars digestible sugars. It is also fructose free.
- Dates. Essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc are found in dates. They also contain vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
- Honey. Antiviral properties, boots immunity, High GI.
- Stevia. Low GI, from the stevia plant. Comes in tablet, liquid and powder forms.
- Coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is also called coconut palm sugar. It is a natural sugar made from sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. It is often confused with palm sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm tree. It contains minerals including Iron, zinc, calcium and potassium.
- Agave. Derived from a plant with lower GI. Contains fructose. Liquid form only.
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© The Yoga Connection 2016