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Does fruit turn into sugar?


Fruit provides an abundance of nutrition: antioxidants, water, vitamins, minerals and energy--aka "fructose" a long sugar chain that gets broken down into glucose (the body's preferred fuel source) in the liver.

Fructose gets a bad reputation sometimes in the media or in sensationalized news stories that may be promoting low-carbohydrate diets.

There is a big difference between high-fructose corn syrup (a compound that includes cornstarch and large amounts of fructose) and the plain fructose that naturally occurs in fruit, honey and some vegetables. Eating foods rich in high fructose corn syrup can lead to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, weight gain and an elevated blood fat called triglycerides. This is because fructose that isn't used right away by the body to become glucose must be stored. It is that storage that promotes the conditions mentioned.

Don't get us wrong, eating too much fruit or too much of any one sugar is not the ideal! It can be just as problematic to eat too much fructose.

How much fruit is too much?

Your energy needs (how many calories you need to eat in one day) are tailored to you. If you don't know how many you need to eat, ask a North Texas Nutrition Associate dietitian or consider getting a resting metabolic rate test where it can easily be measured in 10 minutes.

Once that is determined, most people need a percentage of calories from carbohydrates (fruit is under that category).

As a general "rule of thumb" the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults eat 2 cups of fruit/day.

What to do if I'm eating too much fruit?

If a person is eating too much fruit, and thus displacing calories that could otherwise be used elsewhere, a good start is to track what that person is eating over about 3 days time and determine what is missing. From there, a plan can be implemented to substitute the elements in the diet that are lacking (most often this is vegetables) where the fruit used to be. Some tasty recipes can be found on our blog.

Is it normal for kids to gravitate towards fruit?

We get asked often if kids who are eating fruit are missing out on nutrients that they would otherwise get from vegetables. Yes, in an ideal world, every child would accept an abundance of folate and calcium (two nutrients kids often don't get enough of) vegetables instead of canned peaches, applesauce or fruit.  A consistent plan to promote healthy portions of both fruit and vegetables should be implemented early and often.

The key here is that if fruit is offered to a child, so should the vegetable that is nutritious, in equal frequency and prepared in an appealing fashion. Offering fresh vegetables with dips, ketchup and cheese is completely fine for kids. It should be noted that the bitterness in vegetables is tasted more prominently in children than adults. This changes over time.

If you're struggling to eat a varied diet, we offer meal planning services that include recipe sharing from our chef prepared e-recipe library.


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