Are all sugars equally unhealthy?  How much fruit is too much?  Are "natural" sweeteners better than white sugar?

Have you ever pondered these questions yourself? Or purchased an expensive, "natural" sweetener, hoping it provides a healthier option? If so, you're not alone. Sugar is one of the most commonly misunderstood topics in nutrition. So let's take a minute and debunk this confusion.

Fruit is loaded with sugar. One apple, for example, contains roughly 13g of sugar. An apple also contains pectin ,fiber, and some powerful phytonutrients (plant chamicals) called chlorogenic acid, quercetin, anthocyanin, and catechin.

Sugar becomes unhealthy once you remove it from its original source. It then becomes a “free” or added sugar and is classified as an empty calorie – a source of energy that provides no nutritive benefits.

Fruit, however, which is loaded with sugar is also full of fiber and antioxidants. Some specialists have proposed that free sugars should be classified even more precisely than this – because not only do they lack any nutritive benefits, but they also detract from overall health and “trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases” (Lustig, Schmidt and Brindis, 2012, p28). Thus falling beyond the limit of “emptiness,” free sugars may be better classified as toxins. 

Naturally occurring sugars found in plants have no adverse effect on your health (when consumed intact, as part of the fruit or vegetable). Quite contrarily, fruit consumption is extremely healthy, even if you eat as much as 20 servings a day! (In fact, consuming this much fruit significantly reduces your LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, body weight, and risk of cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.)  

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Achieving health and happiness through evidence-based nutrition


Nikola Hamilton

MSc GLobal Public Health Nutrition

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Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Furthermore, it is important to work closely with a qualified healthcare provider when starting any new exercise regimen, diet or treatment as dietary adjustments may alter medication needs or have other effects on physical health.