The ins and outs of fructose

Raisins_01

So I’ve recently bagged myself a summer internship at The Garden – a marketing and PR agency that specialise in making a brand the best it can be. Sitting among the founders of the company (one of the funniest interviews I have ever experienced by the way) we arrive at the topic of raisins; whether I like them, if I think they’re healthy for me and my thoughts on the high level of sugar in fruits such as these.

I’ve always been a bit wary of sugar. My mum’s a diabetic so it’s one of the things we’re taught to keep an eye on.  Most people want to provide a healthy balanced diet for their children or family (strong bones and all that), but one of the hardest things when buying food is noticing what products are actually made of. Something we all agree on is that fruit and veg is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle but just exactly how much should we be consuming and what exactly does this word fructose mean?

Fructose is a sugar, harder for the body to break down by the organs than glucose and the liver is the only one that can metabolize fructose in significant amounts. However this is only in the form of added sugar where the fructose turns into fat and considering I’m posting on a health blog I think it’s safe to say than not many people reading this are stuffing their face with ample chocolate bars and cake as we speak (unless you’ve had a hard day – we’ll let you off).

Although fructose can be harmful to your body, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t apply to fruit and veg, foods naturally high in fructose. They contain essential vitamins the body thrives off such as high fiber that is essential to a great digestive system.

It’s when we consume too much at one time that it becomes a problem.

Naked_Juice

So we’ve probably all come across the Naked drinks. Their Green Machine – made up of 10 ingredients and packed with Vitamins A & C to enjoy as part of a varied and balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. The calories on the label are by 100ml which shows only 11.6g of sugar, not bad for all those nutrients! Until you find out that there is actually 450ml in the bottle and you’re actually consuming over 50g of sugar in one bottle. Yes, according to Naked it’s all naturally occurring which means Fructose is popping up again, but surely this much sugar regardless of where its coming from can’t be healthy?

The amount of fruit and veg going into a Naked drink is way more than what anyone would consume in one sitting. Take this example, if you had 4 oranges in front of you – would you be able to eat that many one after the other? Probably not – but you could quite easily consume that amount of orange juice. The element that gets lost however is the fiber from the actual fruit as this gets lost when all the juice is squeezed out and into a bottle.

Personally I wouldn’t suggest that over 50g of sugar is good for anyone, no matter what form it comes in but let’s take a look at raisins.

So one small box of raisins at 43g contains 123 calories and 25g of sugar but by being high in fiber with no saturated fat can we add this dried fruit to our list of healthy snacks? They’re certainly better for us than a bar of dairy milk that comes in at 148 calories with 5.6g of saturated fat and 14.7g of sugar in a standard 28g bar!

I think, like everything, moderation is key as part of a varied diet. If we sat there eating 100g of raisins every day, our body wouldn’t be able to cope with the amount of fructose, just the same as if we ate salmon every day due to it being high in fat and mercury.

I think many of us would agree that It’s certainly better to give your child a pack of California raisins rather than a chocolate bar or packet of crisps in their lunch box and as for ourselves – I wouldn’t mind a pack of raisins every now and then (if they’re covered in chocolate that is – but that’s a different post altogether…)

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