Tag Archives: nutrition

Fruit and Liquid Sugar

Liquid sugar, such as in sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks, is the leading single source of added sugar in the American diet, representing 36% of the added sugar we consume.

Research suggests that our bodies process liquid sugar differently than sugar in foods, especially those containing fiber.

Scientists argue that when you eat an apple (for example), you may be getting as many as 18 grams of sugar, but the sugar is “packaged” with about one-fifth of our daily requirement of fiber. Because it takes our bodies a long time to digest that fiber, the apple’s sugar is slowly released into our blood stream, giving us a sustained source of energy.

But when we drink the same amount of sugar in sugary drinks, it doesn’t include that fiber. As a result, the journey from liquid sugar to blood sugar happens quickly, delivering more sugar to the body’s vital organs than they can handle. Over time, that can overload the pancreas and liver, leading to serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.

Watch the full video with UC Davis nutritional biologist, Dr. Kimber Stanhope:

Is Sugar in Fruit Different Than Sugar in Soda?

Sugar. Everyone loves a sweet treat, but sugar has found its way into savory foods like pasta sauce and bread. On average, Americans eat nearly 66 pounds of added sugar per person per year. It’s easy to exceed the daily recommended sugar intake when a 12 oz soda has about 11 teaspoons of added sugar.  But what about the sugar in fruit?  Should people be worried about how much fruit they’re eating? Kimber Stanhope, a Nutritional biologist at UC Davis, walks us through the science.

Sugar doesn’t just add to our waistlines, it is linked to chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. There is also growing scientific consensus that one of the most common types of sugar, fructose (found in high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar) can be toxic to the liver, just like alcohol.

Is fruit juice better for you than soda?   

Dr. Stanhope gets asked this a lot. The short answer is that no one really knows for sure.

“…it drives me crazy that I don’t know the answer for sure. I have not found any studies in the scientific literature that have actually compared the consumption of a sugar-sweetened beverage to a fruit juice-sweetened beverage for more than one day. So we’re going to do a 2-week study…one group will be getting fruit juice (orange juice), the other group will get a sucrose-sweetened beverage. And I think it’s very important that this study gets done because there are many scientists out there that have made the assumption that fruit juice is just as bad as sucrose [because they’ve taken out the fiber in fruit], and they might be right, but I don’t know. There is evidence in the literature, epidemiological studies, that suggest that fruit juice is protective compared to a sugar-sweetened beverage, and there is also a couple of studies that suggest they’re just as bad. We need to know.”

Stanhope points out that the answer may even differ for each type of fruit juice (grapefruit juice, apple juice, orange juice, etc.).  She hopes to study the question in more detail once the preliminary results come in.

More information at sugarscience.org

Fake olive oil? To get the benefits of olive oil, it’s got to be fresh

Olive Oil - Olive Oyl

The Mediterranean diet has become a darling of medical researchers.  It’s known for its veggies and grains, limited amounts of meat, and a good helping of olive oil.

Researchers believe that olive oil is the key to the superior health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

“The health benefits of olive oil are 99% related to the presence of the phenolic compounds, not the oil itself,” explains Nasir Malik, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. [1]

Polyphenols decrease heart disease risk factors by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing blood clotting and improving the health of artery linings. They also reduce cancer risk by lowering inflammation and cellular proliferation. They even reduce microbial activity and infections.

Sounds great, right? But here’s the catch…

When tested, polyphenols were surprisingly low in most commercially available olive oils.

It turns out that 69% of the “extra-virgin” olive oil imported into the U.S. has been shown to be substandard, according to a study out of UC Davis.

Often, the oil is just too old. It’s shipped from place to place before it’s imported and usually isn’t stored well.  By the time it arrives in the U.S., Many of the heart-health compounds have degraded and fizzled out.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Harvest date on the label: The bottle should have a “harvest date” instead of a “sell by” label. The olives should be harvested within the past year.
  • The container: Buy olive oil in a container that protects it from the light (dark glass or tin).
  • The taste & smell: If the oil stings the back of your throat a little that tells you the beneficial polyphenols really are there. High-quality olive oil is pungent and often described as “grassy” or “peppery.”

The brands that failed to meet the extra virgin olive oil standards, according to this study: Bertolli, Carapelli, Colavita, Star, Pompeian. [2]

The real deal: California Olive Ranch, Cobram Estate, Lucini. (Kirkland Organic, Lucero (Ascolano), McEvoy Ranch Organic are also noted by Eat Grown Local.)