Fructose is a monosaccharide, simple sugar (carbohydrate) found mostly in fruits and some vegetables. Fructose is the sweetest carbohydrate, therefore the most addictive.
If fructose is so sweet and found in fruit, is fruit making us gain weight?
Speaking simply, no it is not. When fructose is consumed in whole (fruit), it also contains essential nutrients, fruits are an important element in a healthy diet.
Most fructose consumed in Australia is not through high consumption of fruit, it is consumed through added sucrose. A disaccharide made from glucose and fructose, sucrose is your everyday sugar, extracted from sugarcane and other plants for human consumption.
Yes, this means sugar cane juice is a sugar drink!
Sucrose is commonly added to desserts, processed foods, soft drinks, chocolate etc. The fructose content making this unbelievable sweet and moreish.
Industrial Added fructose, also known as high-fructose corn syrup is made from corn starch which is processed to convert some glucose molecules to fructose molecules, making it sweeter. High-fructose corn syrup is highly available, cheap to consume and addictive. Therefore manufacturers are now adding it to food products in replacement of instead sucrose. High fructose corn syrup is in everything, from milk to “healthy energy bars”. High-fructose corn syrup has been highly associated with declining liver function and increased risk of hypertension, though fructose consumed through whole fruit has no correlations with either of these diseases.
Experiments have shown that when consuming a diet eliminating added High-fructose corn syrup (and other added fructose sugars) and natural fructose from fruits causes a gain in weight or no change at all though when participants consume a diet eliminating added High-fructose corn syrup (and other added fructose sugars) and still consumes fruits, participants lose weight. This is due to consuming the fruit itself which contains multiple essential nutrients including fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Phytonutrients found in fresh fruits can have a blocking effect on the uptake of sugar on the cells lining our intestines, therefore adding a phytonutrient rich foods, for example, berries can decrease the insulin spike in high hypoglycemic foods. Therefore when consuming a food containing high sugar content which causes a surge in insulin levels including; chocolate, when the chocolate is eaten along with berries, the berries block the effect of the uptake of sugar and decrease the insulin surge, therefore, telling our bodies we are fuller for longer, therefore, consuming less foods.
Does fruit make us gain weight?
No, it doesn’t, fruit has many benefits when consumed alone and when consumed with other foods. The average Australian only consumes 1.7 servings of fruit per day. The recommendation serves of fruit is 2. The recommendation for discretionary foods for Australians is 143kcals though the average Australian’s diet is made up from 30% discretionary food items including, cakes, processed meats, chocolate, desserts and processed foods.
I believe in saying that fruit is high in sugar and making us gain weight is an excuse to realising the bigger picture. There is no simple solution to losing weight besides consuming majority a whole-foods diet rich in fresh fruits, veggies, legumes and grains.