Although fruits are thought of as healthy foods, fruit juice drinks fall into a different category; they are often concentrated sources of sugar without any fiber. This means that when you drink them, they go fast into your blood and they would cause your blood sugar to go sky high.
Whole fruits do mainly contain fructose, but they also contain a lot of fiber. For people without diabetes genes, the sugar in the fruits shouldn’t cause any problems. Most people with diabetes can also eat fruit, but they need to control the amount they eat in one sitting.
Fruit juices and fruit drinks
Fruit juices, on the other hand, are loaded with sugar but contain basically no fiber. Liquid foods leave your stomach faster than solid foods. As a result, the sugars in juices are dumped into your intestine very fast, making your blood glucose levels go up.
Fruit drinks are even worse. They may contain a little of the real fruit, but they are basically made of water with flavorings, sometimes artificial ones, and sweeteners, mainly high fructose corn syrup. Some manufacturers make fruit drinks appear healthy choices by advertising them as “low-fat, no cholesterol”.
Well, these claims are very deceiving, because those manufacturers know, as well as we do, that cholesterol is only found in animal foods. But they still use such label to appeal to consumers.
Even more than fruit juices, fruit drinks dump a huge amount of sugar into your body very quickly. If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, they will probably overwhelm the ability of your pancreas to produce insulin and will make your blood glucose levels go above normal.
A word about high fructose corn syrup
High fructose corn syrup comes in several different types. They have different numbers which indicate the percentage of fructose in the syrup.
HFCS-42 has 42 percent fructose. It is used in canned fruits when the manufacturers don’t want the sweetener to overwhelm the taste of the fruit. Actually, this percentage of fructose is slightly less sweet of what you get from sucrose (white sugar).
HFCS-55 has slightly more fructose than you get from sucrose, and is the standard sweetener in soft drinks and fruit juice drinks.
HFCS-90 contains 90 percent fructose and is sweeter than sucrose. It is often used in diet or “lite” products that have had the fat reduced.
The problem is that many people associate the word “fruit” with “healthy”, so anything marketed with the word fruit in it may be perceived as a “healthy choice”. This is especially true of fruit juices. But as you can see, when you drink some of the fruit juices out there in the supermarket, you end up ingesting more sugar than if you ate plain white sugar.
Advanced glycation end products, AGEs
Remember also that AGEs (advanced glycation end products) are formed when glucose reacts with protein in the blood. Scientists believe that AGEs are among the culprits that cause aging and some degenerative diseases such as diabetes.
Well, fructose also reacts with proteins. In fact, fructose reacts a lot faster than glucose –ten times or more faster- to form products similar to the AGEs. Thus, eating a lot of fructose could accelerate aging more than eating table sugar.
Based on what has been set, should you avoid fruit because it contains fructose? No. the amount of fructose you get from eating fruit is relatively small. Fruit contains beneficial phytochemicals, minerals, fiber, and a relatively small amount of fructose.
Does all this mean that you should never drink fruit juices? That depends. Check your blood sugar after you drink them and see what your meter tells you. A better choice will be to drink water, especially with your meals.
The sugar in fruit juices will ferment the proteins in your meal and you will have a very uncomfortable digestion. Not only you will feel bloated and full of gas, but your intestine will produce a lot of toxins that your body will have to eliminate.