Making the Case for Eating Fruit - NYT
Making the Case for Eating Fruit
By SOPHIE EGAN
Experts agree that we are eating too much sugar, which is contributing
to obesity and other health problems. But in the rush to avoid sugar,
many low-carb dieters and others are avoiding fruits. But fresh fruit
should not become a casualty in the sugar wars, many nutrition experts say.
Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity
Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital, said that sugar
consumed in fruit is not linked to any adverse health effects, no matter
how much you eat. In a recent perspective piece in The Journal of the
American Medical Association, he cited observational studies that showed
that increased fruit consumption is tied to lower body weight and a
lower risk of obesity-associated diseases.
Whole fruits, he explained, contain a bounty of antioxidants and
healthful nutrients, and their cellular scaffolding, made of fiber,
makes us feel full and provides other metabolic benefits. When you bite
into an apple, for example, the fruit's fiber helps slow your absorption
of fructose, the main sugar in most fruits. But fiber is not the full story.
"You can't just take an 8-ounce glass of cola and add a serving of
Metamucil and create a health food," Dr. Ludwig said. "Even though the
fructose-to-fiber ratio might be the same as an apple, the biological
effects would be much different."
Fiber provides "its greatest benefit when the cell walls that contain it
remain intact," he said. Sugars are effectively sequestered in the
fruit's cells, he explained, and it takes time for the digestive tract
to break down those cells. The sugars therefore enter the bloodstream
slowly, giving the liver more time to metabolize them. Four apples may
contain the same amount of sugar as 24 ounces of soda, but the slow rate
of absorption minimizes any surge in blood sugar. Repeated surges in
blood sugar make the pancreas work harder and can contribute to insulin
resistance, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes.
"If we take a nutrient-centric approach, just looking at sugar grams on
the label, none of this is evident," Dr. Ludwig said. "So it really
requires a whole foods view."....
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