Pick Fruit to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Posted by Pharmacist on September 23, 2013

Obesity rates have steadily increased in recent years as has the proliferation of low-carbohydrate diets. Health care experts advise eating less sugar and in the process of cutting carbohydrates many dieters have excluded fruit. This is a mistake, according to nutrition experts.

In a recent article in The Journal of the American Medical Association Dr. David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital noted that the sugar consumed in fruit has no negative health effects, even in large quantities. In fact, increasing fruit intake is tied to a lower weight and as a result a lower risk of obesity-related health risks. Dr. Ludwig pointed out that whole fruit contains a multitude of healthful nutrients and antioxidants as well as fiber, which helps reduce the rate at which the fructose (the sugar found in fruit) is absorbed.

The fiber that comes from fruit cannot be replicated in fiber supplements such as Metamucil. “Even though the fructose-to-fiber ratio might be the same as an apple, the biological effects would be much different,” he said. This is because fiber offers the greatest benefit when cell walls are intact. “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,” Dr. Ludwig noted. “Repeated surges in blood sugar make the pancreas work harder and can contribute to insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes.” The fiber in fruit also helps us feel fuller. Foods high in fiber break down in our digestive tracks at a slower rate. It also affects our “intestinal flora” by helping healthy bacteria flourish.

No fruit is necessarily better than others, though Dr. David Katz of Yale University advises “eating the rainbow” to maximize nutrient and antioxidant intake. And beware of selecting juice over whole fruit. When the fruit is turned into liquid it releases the fructose faster in the bloodstream. Dr. Katz also notes that with juice “you reduce some of the metabolic benefit of the fiber by pulverizing it so fine; it changes the physical structure.” Dried fruits are also discouraged as they concentrate the calories into a smaller version of the whole fruit, though dried fruit is better than juice according to Dr. Katz because the cellular structure is not changed.

The bottom line is that fruit is a healthy choice for anyone looking to maintain or lose weight. Choose fresh whole fruit first, then dried fruit, sweetened dried fruit and juice as a last resort.

What Makes Food “Natural”?

Genetically modified foods continue to be at the forefront of controversy as Lisa Leo of Fort Lauderdale, Florida sues Pepperidge Farm over the all-natural claims made on Cheddar Goldfish packaging.

Leo, an elementary schoolteacher, has accused the massive food company of false advertising, stating the crackers contain modified soybeans. Her lawsuit was filed June 11 and seeks new labels, class-action status and a minimum of $5 million in damages for Florida customers who have purchased the fish-shaped crackers since June of 2009. Her claim is that Pepperidge Farm is violating Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The acronym GMO is short for genetically modified organisms. They are products that come from animals or plants that have had their DNA re-engineered to increase health and yield. Approximately 90 percent of the soybeans, corn, sugar beets and cotton grown in the United States are genetically altered. The plants can most often be found as ingredients in processed foods such as cereals and crackers.

Joshua Eggnatz is Ms. Leo’s attorney. “You may not think GMOs are bad for you,” he said, “but others may, and the consumer has a right to know and to choose.” In her complaint Ms. Leo says that when she purchased the crackers she believed the natural label meant they were free of GMO ingredients.
There have been recent studies that indicate genetically altered foods can increase the risk of allergies and create new toxins, though this is not considered definitive.

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