"I heard bananas are bad for you because of the high amount of sugar, is this true?”

The short answer is no.  However, nutrition is highly individualized, so the answer is a bit more nuanced.  To begin, let’s take a look at the sugar content of fruit.

The sugars found in fruit are fructose, glucose, and sucrose.  Fructose and glucose are monosaccharides, the basic building block of any carbohydrate.  Sucrose is a disaccharide, composed of 2 monosaccharides.  A sucrose molecule is composed of one molecule each of fructose and glucose.

The total sugars in any fruit (or vegetable) is a sum of the fructose, glucose, and sucrose found in the fruit.  A banana has 12 grams of sugars, equal to 3 teaspoons. 5 grams are from fructose, 5 from glucose, and 2 from sucrose.

Let’s talk about fructose, a sugar of concern for some people.  Although it is almost identical to glucose, fructose is metabolized primarily in the liver.  Some research indicates that an excess in consumption of fructose may lead to weight gain and insulin resistance as well.

However, a review of observational studies published in Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that increased fruit consumption is tied to lower body weight and a lower risk of obesity-related diseases.

This is because fruit is not fructose; it comes with fiber, which slows down the absorption of sugars in the body.  Fiber is one of the main reasons to eat fruit.  Besides taming the effects of sugars, it helps promote satiety (that feeling of fullness and satisfaction).  Lastly, it improves the diversity of our gut microbiome.

Most people do no eat enough fruit.  The USDA recommended intake is 1.5 – 2 cups, yet less than 13% of Americans consume this amount.  We’re talking about 2 fruits a day which is exactly how the betr health program is built!  A banana (Level 2) counts as one cup, as does a medium apple (Level 1).  Having a banana in the morning and an apple for an afternoon snack is not dangerous to your health.  It’s good for you--so enjoy!

-Source: Examining the Health Effects of Fructose - David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD – Journal of the American Medical Association, July 2013


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