Is Fructose in Fruit Really Healthy to Eat?

Nothing is more refreshing than fresh summer fruits, especially during the hot summer months. While fruits should be a staple in any healthy diet, many people underscore the benefits of eating a colorful rainbow array of fruit. Refreshing citrus fruits such as grapefruit and oranges can supply the body with incredible vitamins, minerals, fiber, and yet are low in calories. Berries like blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries carry impressive health benefits, such as fighting inflammation and improving blood sugar and insulin responses. Even avocado – which, yes, is a fruit – is packed with healthy fats, potassium, fiber, and magnesium. The health benefits of fruit are truly amazing! 

While fruits can be an excellent source of critical vitamins and minerals, they also contain high quantities of fiber, antioxidants, and flavonoids (plant metabolites that support healthy cell signaling pathways). Essential nutrients such as potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and folate are often under-consumed in the typical Western diet (which often includes calorically dense, high-fat, highly processed foods with low levels of nutrients). Just adding one piece of fruit per day to your diet can help supply many of these missing nutrients. 

Consuming excessive sugar in the form of fructose is known to have harmful side effects such as helping to cause insulin resistance. Since many fruits have higher sugar levels (such as fructose) than most vegetables and many other foods – you might wonder, are fruits really healthy after all? What makes fresh fruit (with its fructose) different from eating fructose as HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). 

When you eat whole fruit, you also consume fiber and water with it. This fiber and water content take time to eat and digest, meaning that the fructose enters your liver slowly rather than all at once. In addition, it is not sugar that helps you feel full after eating, but fiber. While eating a whole, large apple does contain some fructose and sugar, you will feel much fuller than, for example, drinking a bottle of soda which contains artificial fructose and no fiber.  

Start your day with a bowl of plant-based yogurt topped with fresh berries such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries for an energizing vitamin C and antioxidant boost. A mid-afternoon snack of an apple can supply heart-health-boosting antioxidants as well as pectin, a prebiotic fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Adding an antioxidant-rich orange or colorful pomegranate seeds to your lunchtime salad can have vitamin C-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects in the body. When you want to satisfy your sweet tooth after dinner, reach for a bowl of fresh pineapple or mangoes for a fiber boost.  

Despite all of these benefits, avoid loading up on fruit juices. When you juice fruit, you lose the valuable fiber that the fresh fruits contain. Because the fruit’s fiber passes through your system undigested, it acts to keep your digestive system clean and healthy, support healthy bowel movements, and keep cholesterol levels in the normal range. While fruit juice might supply some of the vitamins contained in the raw fruit, it can be a source of too much sugar without its fiber, which can lead to weight gain.  

Additionally, beware of fruit juices that have been pasteurized. This is mostly what you will find on grocery store shelves. Heating fruit juice can degrade its beneficial nutrients. High heat damages the compounds found in fruits and can lessen their health benefits. 

In addition, once fruits are harvested, their vitamins and nutrients begin to degrade. To get the best possible health benefits from fruits, please enjoy them when they are raw and as fresh as possible. There’s nothing better that the taste of fresh fruits harvested straight from the garden!