If you ask anyone the difference between a candy bar and a banana, they’ll most likely tell you that the banana is the healthier choice. But since both the sugar in fruit, and refined (or “white”) sugar are made up of the same things — fructose and glucose — why is fruit better for us?
Natural Versus Refined Sugar
Yes, all sugar truly is only made up of two things (fructose and glucose), but the body processes these two things very differently. Fructose is broken down in the liver, and there is no big insulin response from it. Glucose, on the other hand, is broken down in the stomach, and needs insulin to be released into the bloodstream to properly metabolize.
As the name would suggest, fruit is comprised primarily of fructose, and also has the benefit of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. The reason fiber is so important is because it slows down the digestion of glucose, allowing your body to use it as energy instead of converting it into fat. Because refined sugar (the sugar in candy, cake, and even simple carbs like bagels) lacks any nutritional value, the glucose is broken down extremely quickly, too quick for the body to metabolize it properly. All this overflowing glucose eventually turns into fat.
Refined sugar also causes insulin to spike (because it requires so much of it to be metabolized), and after a period of time with increased insulin spikes, the body stops being able to release insulin in a healthy manner, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
Because of its quick digestion, white sugar can also leave you feeling unsatisfied, which is why it’s hard to eat just one cookie.
So while it’s always important to check in with your doctor before starting any kind of juice or smoothie plan (especially if you’re pre-diabetic or already dealing with diabetes ), it’s important to note that the sugar consumed via fresh fruit is ultimately healthier for your body in the long term than the sugar pumped into most packaged foods.
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