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Saturday, June 7, 2014


Some  fruit-loving friends have expressed concern over the fruit content of their favorite foods. Fructose is fine for most people if it’s in whole foods, and keep in mind that anything with sucrose, and that’s most carbohydrates including rice and wheat, has a good deal of fructose, since sucrose is a disaccharide composed of one part glucose and one part fructose. Grains also contain free fructose. Sadly fruits get the bad rap when refined grains and sodas, especially HFCS, are the real culprit.

For the sake of argument, this is from an article by Dr. Mercola who is opposed to even modest fructose consumption. Even he had to concede the following: “So it appears as though whole fruits, even though they contain fructose, may not be nearly as problematic as fructose from added sugars. One of the reasons for this is believed to be because whole fruits contain high amounts of natural antioxidants, as well as other synergistic compounds that may help counter the detrimental effects of fructose.”


Of course, you can always get your uric acid levels checked. If you have a level of below 3.5  (for women, for men it's below 4) you probably are at a very low risk for fructose toxicity and can be unconcerned with fructose consumption. 

Some believe that people with insulin resistance, such as those with – Diabetes, High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Overweight - should be particularly careful about limiting their fructose from fruit to 15 grams per day or less. 


But if you don't have the above conditions there is likely no need to monitor fruit intake. Eat it to your heart's content. The simple sugars present serve as great carb replenishment after/during a workout, and an easily digestible pre-workout/pre-race energy boost. The problem arises when people who indulge in copious amounts of high sugar fruits that are lower on the nutritional totem pole, such as dates, figs, dried fruit such as prunes and raisins, even banana. With perhaps the exception of banana, these foods should be confined to the realm of workout fuel - minimize consumption on days you don't train - and instead emphasize fruits such as berries, citrus, melons, and apples, all of which are much more nutritious.
But in case you still wish to reduce fructose intake you can choose fruits that have fewer grams of fructose per serving. For example raspberries have 3.5 g per cup while blueberries have 7.4 g, nectarines, peaches and oranges have a lot less than apples, and of course dried fruit is really high. Here’s the link to a chart of fructose content in fruit. You’ll find it in the middle of the webpage: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/06/19/richard-johnson-interview-may-18-2010.aspx.

Another option is to snack on vegetable fruits with some salt rather than fruit. Fruit-loving workout fanatics often don't get enough sodium given their high level of physical activity and water consumption. You lose tons of salt in sweat. Though we love fruits for snacks, try substituting say a bag of tomatoes, or bell peppers, or mushrooms, or cucumbers, or carrots, etc for the bananas and dates you regularly consume. Or try chia pudding. 4 oz. water, 1/4 cup chia, 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, and a couple dashes of stevia, mix and chill and voila, an omega-3 powerhouse.
While we are on the subject of nutritional density, the same thing applies to food groups other than just fruit. Not all foods within a group pack the same energy punch. Leafy green vegetables are the most nutritious veggies,  followed by cruciferous veggies (broccoli and cauliflower). Lower down on the scale are sweet potatoes and potatoes. However, sweet potatoes are still more nutritious even than beans (kidney, garbanzo, black, etc.), which are far better than grains, certainly preferable to nuts. But if you find yourself needing 6 or more bananas to get you through the day, unless you're training for an endurance event chances are you should increase your intake of beans: they're more nutritious than many fruits, - and lower in fructose to boot.
Happy eating!

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