Is All Sugar Bad for You? (Short Answer: No!)

One question I tend to hear somewhat regularly is that if you're looking to lose weight, should you cut back on your fruit intake?

While you can probably guess my answer from the title above, it's important to clarify that this question is based on the notion that all sugar is handled by the body in the same way.  If that were true, wouldn't eating a strawberry be the same as a gummy bear?

If you ever see a spread like this....dig in!

If you ever see a spread like this....dig in!

Of course, the answer is that the two are completely different.  The sugar in strawberries is digested by your body in a much slower manner due to the fiber and other nutrients that benefit our bodies, while the Gummy Bear is, well, just a Gummy Bear.  While that may sound like common sense to some, it's important to go back to 2009 when one study was published which gave rise to much of this conversation about sugar.  This study concluded that beverages sweetened with the sugar most commonly found in fruit, fructose, was worse for individuals than beverages sweetened with another sugar, glucose.

However, the study was an absolute joke.  The patients that were studied were already overweight, and were put on a diet to increase their caloric intake by 25% from baseline levels.  Sure enough, they found that eating 25% more calories from sugar made people gain weight (duh!).  However, if we extrapolate their findings, it would take approximately 20 apples or pears in order to get to the fructose levels that were present in this study.  So, while it may be the perfect time of year to eat 20 apples, it's highly unrealistic to think that our own fructose levels will come anywhere close to that.

As a culture, we tend to favor one nutrient while usually demonizing another (protein over carbs, for example).  But, to get a true appreciation for how a certain nutrient may be absorbed or interact with our bodies, we can't take the nutrient out of context.  As with anything, moderation is king, but the sugar in your fruit is completely healthy for you.  And if you're looking to cut out some sweets, a banana or an apple are the perfect substitute.