There’s been a great deal of fuss about the “evils” of dietary sugar. We’re told to avoid sugar, and at the same time, we’re told to eat fruits…which also contain sugar. What’s the difference? How can one sugar be good for you and the other be so bad?
Simple sugars (also called simple carbohydrates) are found in fruits… and in cookies, pastries, candy, soda, and all of the other food items we’re told to avoid. (There are differences involving various types of sugars…sucrose, fructose, galactose…but these are of a chemical nature and not basically relevant to this discussion).
The problem with the “candy” versus fruit sugar is mostly a matter of the vehicle it arrives in.
In the case of fruit, the sugar comes to you in…fruit. It comes with fiber and vitamins and minerals as co-passengers. Further, you know exactly what you’re getting…a banana is a banana; a strawberry is a strawberry (unless it’s drowned in chocolate…then it’s something else)!
The sugar that you get in candy, on the other hand, always arrives in a limo along with its own co-passengers…fat, additives, cholesterol, trans-fats, hydrogenated oils. There are no nutrients in sugar, which is why the calories are called “empty”. Therefore, when it comes to sugar you have to choose whether you want your empty calories in a vehicle that has many assets or one which brings few benefits and many tag-alongs.
Both kinds of sugar have calories, and if you consume too many calories from any source, you will gain weight because the extra calories are stored as fat. However, it is the “bad” sugar, rather than the “good” variety, that has been most frequently implicated in the obesity epidemic. This is most likely because “candy-cookie- pastry” sugar is so readily available, the portion sizes are usually pre-packaged and excessive, and they are so good and it’s so easy to eat too much. (When is the last time you’ve made yourself sick eating apples)?
The most practical and effective way to lose weight is by eating a portion-controlled, balanced diet, eliminating foods with added sugar, and engaging in a modest exercise program. Don’t eliminate fruit from your diet. The FDA recommends a minimum of two to four servings of fruit per day.