You’ve probably heard this a million times by now. Sugar is one of the worst things you can eat, especially in abundance. Each sweet spoonful increases your chances of gaining weight, becoming diabetic, or having cancer. But is all sugar created equal? Is there a difference between the refined white sugar in your cabinet, and the sugar that is naturally found in something like fruit?
Well, yes and no. Sugar is often broken down into three different categories. Sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Your body processes these substances differently, and while table sugar is almost exclusively made of sucrose, fruits and vegetables often contain all three. So in that sense there is a difference.
On the other hand though, having too much of any kind of sugar can be bad for your health. They’re all the same in the sense that if you could isolate the sugars in fruit, they would have many of the same effects as refined sugar. So why does processed sucrose get demonized, while the natural fructose found in fruit gets a pass? And in any case, why would the sugar in fruit be okay, but the fructose in high fructose corn syrup be considered unhealthy, even though it’s practically the same thing?
What it really boils down to is the difference between added sugar and natural sugar. Under a microscope, you would find no differences between fructose and sucrose regardless of their sources. However, how they are delivered to your body makes a huge difference, because natural sugars are accompanied by a wide variety of nutrients and antioxidants. Filling up on added sugar leaves less room in your stomach for real food, and is much more addictive.
But more importantly, some of the nutrients found in natural sugar sources are often filled with substances that mitigate the harmful effects of sugar by itself.
A recent study explored this attribute of natural sugar sources, and found evidence that suggests that fruit may actually help you lose weight.
Who can resist summer’s sweet berries and ripe, juicy fruit? Few people, that’s for sure. Except those concerned about eating too much sugar from natural fruits, due to hype promoting the belief that fruit sugar converts to fat in the liver, causing obesity. Shame for those people, as a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity proves opposite! According to recent findings, a healthy amount (2-4 servings) of fresh fruit can help your body burn stored fat.
The study examines how a substance known as resveratrol, which is found in many fruits and is what allows an occasional glass of wine to be considered ‘healthy’, induces a “brown-like adipocyte formation in white fat through activation of AMP-activated protein kinase or a1.”
In other words, eating two or three servings of berries and grapes (as well as other fruits) every day can convert ‘bad’ fat stored in the body into ‘calorie-burning, good fat.’
Though the study used female mice to conduct its research, the results are quite impressive:
“Resveratrol significantly increased mRNA and/or protein expression of brown adipocyte markers, including uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1), PR domain-containing 16, cell death-inducing DFFA-like effector A, elongation of very long-chain fatty acids protein 3, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α, cytochrome c and pyruvate dehydrogenase, in differentiated iWAT stromal vascular cells (SVCs), suggesting that resveratrol induced brown-like adipocyte formation in vitro.”
So keep that in mind, especially those of you who have a severe sweet tooth (myself included). If the results of this study can be applied to humans, then you should feel free rely on fruit to quench your sugar cravings, and not feel guilty about gaining weight. You should still eat in moderation just like anything else, but in all likelihood a reasonable amount of sugary fruit can be consumed without experiencing the ill effects of refined sugar.