Can You Eat Too Much Fruit?

A diet full of fruit sounds like a good idea, right? Fruits provide a range of nutritious value, such as fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Eating fruits is also a great healthy and natural alternative to satisfy your sweet cravings. However, loading your diet with an abundant amount of fruit may not be the best thing for your health, and here’s why.

Fructose is the type of sugar found in fruit. Unlike glucose, fructose metabolizes in the liver rather than the bloodstream. When the liver receives an excess amount of fructose, the liver turns fructose turns into triglycerides, which is later stored in fat cells (1). Luckily, whole fruits contain a low amount of fructose. What you need to be more cautious of are fruit concentrates, such as juices, and dried fruits, which contain high amounts of fructose. Another reason fruit can lead to added fat is carbohydrates. Fruits are a great source for carbohydrates, but too much carbohydrates can be overwhelming for your blood cells, creating more fat (2).

Fruits contain a good amount of fiber, which is typically adds benefits towards your daily diet. However, there is such thing as too much fiber. This can lead to bloating, discomfort, indigestion, and frequent bowel movements (3).

Whole fruits generally have a low calorie count. Added calories become a problem when you consume a lot of fruit in one sitting or when fruits are concentrated or condensed, such as juices, smoothies, and fruit salads. The daily recommended amount of fruit is 2 cups- one banana is already 1 cup of fruit and half of your daily recommendation (4)!

Some fruits contain more sugar than others. Grapes, mangos, and cherries are some examples of fruit high in sugar, while strawberries, watermelons, and raspberries are some fruit low in sugar (1). Remember to eat fruit in small amounts throughout the day and to avoid substituting your daily servings with juices and dried fruit as best you can. Always stick with the freshest options!

 

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/life-by-dailyburn-/are-you-eating-too-much-fruit_b_7640514.html

  2. http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/how-much-fruit-should-i-eat

  3. http://rmhealthy.com/can-eating-much-fruit-pose-health-risk/

  4. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruit

Sugar and Cancer: Best Friends?

Does sugar feed cancer cells, causing cancer cells to grow and spread faster? This is common question everybody has. While researchers continue to investigate the relationship between sugar and cancer, the statement still remains under speculation. Sugar feeds all cells in the body, which include cancer cells, however, it doesn’t mean that sugar leads to cancer, likewise, doesn’t mean that being deprived from sugar slows the growth of cancer (1). The truth is consuming large amounts of sugar can harm your body and put you at higher risk for certain cancers and other health conditions.

Sugar is necessary in your diet. Without sugar, your body’s vital organs would cease to function properly (2). Too much daily sugar, however, can cause unhealthy weight gain, which leads to an increased risk for cancer and other serious health conditions. It is also important to be cautious of hidden sugars, added sugars, and artificial sweeteners.

One of the main reasons why sugar has a bad reputation is due to the lack of its nutritional value. Sugar does have a place in your diet. According to the American Heart Association, men should have no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day, and women should have no more than 6 teaspoons per day (3). However, an average American consumes double the amount of the recommended serving per day, which can have a great impact on your health.

Naturally occurring sugars found in food such as fruit, starchy vegetables, grains, breads, and lactose, come from sources that benefit your diet. Added sugars coming from processed food are shown to harm your health (4).

Sugar can fit into a balanced diet by sticking to the daily recommended amount of sugar, and when eaten in small amounts. Enjoy foods and drinks with added sugar in moderation. Try receiving sugar from natural sources as best as you can. Doing so will provide your body with more vitamins and nutrients needed to help fight off diseases like cancer!

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/in-depth/cancer-causes/art-20044714?pg=2

  2. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/may-2015/FOH-cancer-love-sugar.html

  3. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.V4Zv_5MrJME

  4. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/importance-sugar-human-body-4424.html

Sugar Sweetened Beverages: The Not-So-Sweet Truth

As the health industry expands, people have been more conscious with their food consumption. Healthier food choices and snacks have been hitting grocery shelves, and restaurants are beginning to incorporate more healthful foods. However, one may grab beverages and soft drinks off that grocery shelf without thinking twice about the amount of added sugars.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are drinks with added sugars. This includes soft drinks, flavored juices, sports drink, smoothies, sweetened teas, coffee, energy drinks, and electrolyte replacement drinks (1). White sugar, cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup are all commonly added sweeteners. If you are not careful, the calories from these beverages may contribute to weight gain while providing little to no nutritional value. There is also increased risks of tooth decay, obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes (1).

Our bodies process liquid sugar differently than natural sugar in foods with fiber. When we eat an apple, we may be getting around 18 grams of sugar, but the sugar is “packaged” with fiber. It takes time for our bodies to digest that fiber, so the sugar is slowly released into our bloodstream, giving us a sustained source of energy (3). When we drink the same amount of sugar from drinks, it does not include the fiber. This leads to sugar being absorbed quickly into our bloodstream, which may eventually lead to serious health problems (3).

So, what can you do? Pay attention to what you are drinking. There are many beverages that claim to be packed with healthful ingredients but are often loaded with sugar. Some beverages contain labels with words such as “natural,” “pure,” or “organic” to appeal more to consumers. A beverage labeled “naturally sweetened” does not make it a healthful choice. If you find it difficult to make a change, cut back slowly.

Ways to make smarter beverage choices:

  • Choose water over sugar-sweetened beverages.

  • If possible, ask for half-sweetened or unsweetened drinks at restaurants.

  • Make your fruit smoothies with unsweetened almond milk, coconut water, or plain water instead of sugar-sweetened juices.

  • Use unsweetened milk or a low-calorie sweetener in your coffee.

  • Make your own unsweetened tea at home with tea bags. If desired, add a half a tablespoon of pure honey.

  • Make your own infused water by adding slices of lemon, cucumber, strawberries, or mint.

1 http://www.health.ri.gov/healthrisks/sugarsweetenedbeverages/

2 http://carltondentalcare.com.au/high-sugar-content-in-foods/ (Image Source)

3 http://www.sugarscience.org/sugar-sweetened-beverages/#.V4Z4aZMrI_U

 

Sweeteners for that Sweet Tooth

“Sugar Free, Diet, Low Calorie.” These are all phrases we have heard over and over again by manufacturers in order for us to not feel guilty about eating a sweet treat

 

Alternative sweeteners are known for being sweeter than sugar, low in calories, and sugar free while still enhancing flavor. These are perfect for those trying to cut calories or trying to control insulin resistant diseases like diabetes. Their low carb content provide better control for diabetics when it comes to blood glucose. Even though these sweeteners are low in calories, it’s important to still check the label. Not all sweeteners may be calorie free, they still may contribute to the overall carbohydrate content of the product. Sugar Alcohols, for instance may still have 2-3 calories per gram, whereas regular sugar has 4 calories per gram. Also, we know that artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose may be harmful long term. High consumptions of sweeteners may also cause digestion issues and over consumption. So remember, everything in moderation - no matter if it’s calorie free!

 

SUGAR

Sugar as we all know is added to many things we eat, it’s sweet taste keeps us wanting more.

 

"The brain's saying 'Give me more like that'," says Smith. "It's getting lots of sugar without you actually knowing, so is less able than when eating sweets to say 'I've had enough. Stop now.'...sugar is in things that people don't know or recognize from their tasting. We don't allow ourselves the freedom to choose."

 

This sweet treat can be addicting, and like all addictions it comes with a price or in this case empty calories. It’s important to be aware of what is in your food, and to know that sugar comes in many forms -

 

  1. Sucrose
  2. Fructose
  3. Turbinado Sugar
  4. Syrups (Agave, Maple, Molasses, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, etc.)
  5. Honey
  6. Nectar

SUGAR ALCOHOLS

Don’t let the name fool you, there is actually NO alcohol in sugar alcohols. They are derived from fruits and vegetables and are mechanically altered. They are a reduced calorie sweetener because our gut cannot fully absorb them. The disadvantage is that they may cause intestinal problems, like gas, bloating, cramping, and soft stools. Sugar alcohols are usually found in foods that are labeled “sugar free” or “no sugar added”.

 

  1. Glycerol
  2. Maltitol
  3. Lactitol
  4. Sorbitol
  5. Xylitol
  6. Erythriol
  7. Mannitol

 

NATURAL LOW CALORIE SWEETENERS

Natural sweeteners are becoming the “elite” version of alternative sweeteners. though they’re new to the western grocery stores, other countries have been using natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit for years. Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (stevia) and Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle (monk fruit) are two plants that are native to South America and Southern China. These sweeteners have little to no calories or carbs making them ideal for diabetics. There is no acceptable daily intake reported by the FDA for these two sweeteners, but that doesn’t mean you should over consume.

 

Stevia

(Sun Crystals, Truvia, Pure Via)

300X Sweeter than Sugar

 

Monk Fruit

(Nectresse, Monk Fruit in the Raw, PureLo)

150 - 200X Sweeter than Sugar

 

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

Everyone knows those bright pink, blue, and white packets sitting on restaurant table tops everywhere. Artificial sweeteners are usually found in diet foods and drinks as their low calories aid in weight loss, but be careful not to over do it. A lot of evidence shows they may not be the best for us long term. However, the FDA has approved consumption of them under the acceptable daily intake.

 

Before approving these sweeteners, the FDA reviewed more than 100 safety studies that were conducted on each sweetener, including studies to assess cancer risk. The results of these studies showed no evidence that these sweeteners cause cancer or pose any other threat to human health.

 

Sucralose

ADI 5mg/kg (Splenda)

600X Sweeter than Sugar

 

Saccharin

ADI 15mg/kg (Sweet 'N Low, Sweet Twin, NectaSweet)

200-700X Sweeter than Sugar

 

Acesulfame K

ADI 15mg/kg (Sunett & Sweet One)

200X Sweeter than Sugar

 

Aspartame

ADI 50mg/kg (Equal & NutraSweet)

200X Sweeter than Sugar

 

 

 

 

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/sugar-alcohols.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900484/

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm397725.htm

http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/artificial-sweeteners-fact-sheet

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36071678

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3402256/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198517/

 

Tips to Limit Sugar Intake

Sugar intake in America has increased dramatically over the past few decades at the expense of our health. Now that the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans has recommended limiting sugar intake to <10% of your total calorie intake, it is even more important for consumers to be aware of the sources of sugar in our diets, why it’s so bad, and ways to decrease sugar intake (1).

Consumption of sugar has increased for a myriad of reasons. One of the biggest reasons for increased consumption is the addition of sugar in many food products, which previously contained little to none. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is ubiquitous on our grocery shelves. Even foods we don’t associate with sweet flavor like ketchup, salad dressings, or frozen entrees often contain HFCS.

Another reason for the increase in sugar intake is due to the increased consumption of sugary beverages such as juice, pop, or sweetened caffeinated drinks. To give a perspective, a 12 oz can of pop contains about 33 grams of sugar (almost 3 tablespoons) and a tall caramel Frappuccino contains 45 grams of sugar (almost ¼ cup!).

 

Why Limit Sugar?

1.     Sugar has little nutritional value. Besides contributing energy (calories), sugar provides no nutritional benefits. It contains no vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, or fiber in it. While we do need calories to survive, it’s better to get them from foods that contribute other nutrients to our diet.

2.     Excessive sugar intake has been linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides (2, 3). Elevated triglycerides are linked to higher incidence of heart disease.

3.     Sugar is addictive. Humans have an innate liking for sugary foods. This was beneficial in the past when food wasn’t readily available and consumption of high calorie foods was vital for survival. Nowadays sugar is readily available and has been shown to stimulate the same brain pathways opioids do, making it a habit-forming food (4). Thus, eating sugar leads to the downward spiral of craving more sugar, further exacerbating the negative health effects of excessive sugar consumption. 

Tips to Eliminate Sugar

1.     Limit processed foods, which often have added sugar. Focus on eating fresh produce, whole grains, unprocessed meats, and beans for the bulk of your diet.

2.     Decrease the sugar in recipes. Most people don’t notice a difference in taste when the sugar in a recipe is decreased by ⅓.

3.     Sweeten foods yourself. Foods like yogurt or oatmeal often come already sweetened with high amounts of sugar. It’s better to buy the plain versions of these foods and sweeten them yourself either with fruit or small amounts of sweetener.

4.     Limit intake of sweetened beverages. Water is the#1 choice, but unsweetened coffees, tea, or milks are good choices as well.

5.     Choose unsweetened versions of foods. Products like applesauce or almond milk have unsweetened versions available. If buying canned or packaged fruits, look for ones canned in water or juice vs. sugary syrups.

6.     Check nutrition labels. Any ingredient ending in “-ose” is a sugar. If a food has many sugary ingredients, especially near the beginning of the ingredient list, it may be an item you want to limit consumption of. 

Sugar is tasty and can be part of a balance diet, but overall intake needs to be drastically reduced in American in order to improve our health and well-being.

References

1.     http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/

2.     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23594708

3.     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673878/

4.     http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/23/opinion/sugar-season-its-everywhere-and-addictive.html?_r=0

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