Fruit versus sugar, a sweet benefit

New findings suggest that the body can distinguish between different types of sugar.

Sugar is sugar whether it comes from fruit or refined sugar, right? Recent research is suggesting that this may not be true. In the past, nutritionists have understood that body distinguishes a gram of sugar as simply a gram of sugar regardless of its origin. But recent research has shown that the body can actually distinguish the difference between refined sugars, like high fructose corn syrup, and nutrient-dense, natural sugar from fruit.

According to Ruth Frechman, M.S., R.D., dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, “Americans are consuming 16 percent of their total calories as added sugars.”

The majority of added sugar in the American diet comes from soda, energy drinks, sport drinks, grain-based desserts, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, dairy based desserts and candy. In 2009 the American Heart Association recommended no more than 100 calories (about six teaspoons) of daily added sugar intake for women and 150 calories (about nine teaspoons) for men.

All sugar is broken down into metabolic building blocks by your body whether it comes from milk, fruit or soda. There is a difference, however, in what the body is able to produce with the different types of sugar after breaking it down. Refined sugars have been shown to produce a rapid and high rise in blood glucose whereas sugar from most whole fruits produces a gradual rise in blood glucose, according to the University of Sydney. Whole fruits are also high in soluble fiber which slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream and they are packed with vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants.

For more information about what to include in a healthy lifestyle visit www.choosemyplate.gov.