I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say they don't eat certain fruits because of their sugar content. While it's true that some sugars are bad for you, that's not true of the naturally occurring sugar in fruits.

Natural Sugars

apple, juice, sweet, pasture
Photo by Santina Renzi.

Natural sugars, like those found in fruit, are unrefined and typically contain more nutrients than refined sugars. Additionally the sugars found in fruit are long-chain carbohydrates. While this may sound complicated, it just means that the carbs take longer to absorb and digest into your system.

Additionally, fruit contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, which are all essential to good health. These elements help to slow down the absorption of fructose, the sugar found in fruits, into your system. You won't find any of those important elements in refined sugars.

For example, one medium-sized banana contains about 19 grams of sugar. However it also contains fiber to help your digestion and potassium to help your nervous system send messages and your muscles to contract.

The next time you eat a piece of fruit, think about its nutritional value of it rather than its sugar content.

Refined Sugars

chocolate, sweet, cream, cookie, cake
Photo by Sarah Joh.

Refined sugars are natural sugars that have been processed and combined with other things. You can find refined sugars in everything from your store-bought ketchup to birthday cake. 

The main difference of refined sugars is that they contain glucose, which the body digests easily. As a result, too much of it can affect insulin and blood sugar levels and cause significant health problems in the long run. When eaten in large amounts, refined sugars can cause tooth decay and cavities. They can also cause more serious issues like high blood sugar, and lead to diabetes.

Sneaky places to look out for refined sugars:

tea, coffee, milk
Photo by Katie Walsh.

- Ketchup (fries for dessert, anyone?)

- Sauces (like BBQ and Teriyaki)

- Cereals (some are more than 50 percent sugar

- Granola and protein bars (make your own at home)

- Flavored yogurts (some have more sugar than a Twinkie)

- Fruit juice (some even call it a junk food)

The Takeaway

While fruit is good for you, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Similarly, eating two brownies every once and a while won't affect you in the long run so go ahead and treat yo self the next time you're craving dessert. 

Keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends a maximum of nine teaspoons of sugar per day for men, and six teaspoons for women. The next time you hear a friend say that a fruit has too much sugar, you'll have be able to tell them why it's actually a good sugar.