Diabetes Diet: Fruits And Vegetable Sugars: How Are They Different From Regular Sugar? Expert Reveals

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All foods of plant origin contain some amount of natural sugars.

Strong points

  • Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and the most efficient
  • All foods of plant origin contain some amount of natural sugars
  • Commercially available sugars like rice sugar and beet sugar come from plants

Each health advisory explains how we need to reduce the sugar intake in our daily meals to protect ourselves against noncommunicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. On the other hand, it is advisable to take a lot of fruits and vegetables, which also contain sugar; So what’s the difference that makes one source a health hazard and another a health benefit? Let’s find out!

But before that, let me explain a few things to you:

– Carbohydrates are the main and most efficient source of energy for our body.

– Carbohydrates are classified into monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides, depending on the number of sugar molecules.

– Monosaccharides include fructose and glucose. These are the basic units from which all other complex carbohydrates are made. Disaccharides are two combined monosaccharides and polysaccharides are multiple molecules of monosaccharides combined.

– Table sugar and the most widely used sugar in processed foods is sucrose, a disaccharide made up of fructose and glucose. Sucrose is metabolized by similar processes in our body, regardless of its source.

– All foods of plant origin contain a certain amount of natural sugars.

– The total carbohydrates in a raging fruit of 1-20g / 100g of edible portion and in raging vegetables of 1-25g / 100g of edible portion approximately. These include simple sugars, starch, and fiber.

Sugar in Fruits and Vegetables Vs. Sugar in Packaged Foods

There is no difference between natural sugars and one that is added externally (chemically). The main difference is that whole sugars fruits and vegetables are packed with lots of nutrients that are beneficial for health. They are released slowly into the blood, preventing a surge in sugar.

Commercially available sugars like rice sugar, beet sugar, and agave nectar all come from plants. These are extracted, concentrated before being used commercially. This means a more refined higher version of the same sugars which are absorbed very quickly and the amount added is more than a normal serving. High amounts of sugar in the blood mean more insulin, and we know that constant high insulin in the blood causes severe damage and oxidative stress.

(Read also: Diabetes? Here’s the ultimate low sugar fruit salad you need this season)

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The two sugars found in fruits include fructose and glucose.

Learn more about the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables:

Sugar in fruit

All fruits contain simple sugars. The two sugars found in fruits include fructose and glucose. These can be in different proportions in various fruits; approximately, they are present in a 1: 1 ratio. Glucose directly increases blood sugar levels while fructose is metabolized by the liver. While consuming a whole fruit, the body, in addition to a certain amount of sugar, receives a huge dose of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. All of these are essential for a healthy life and for protection against infections and NCDs. And therefore, while refined sugars are just empty calories, the sugars in fruit contain nutrients and therefore are a healthier choice to make. This means that if you have diabetes, it is safe to consume fruit, but in moderation.

Sugar Profile of Some Common Indian Fruits:

LAST NAME LITTLE SWEET HIGH SUGAR
Lawyer 1.33 g / 1 unit
Guava 4g / pc medium
Raspberries 5g in 1 cup
Musk melon 2 g / 100 g
Papaya 4 g / 100 g
Strawberries 7 g / cup
Strawberries 7 g / cup
Orange 6g / 100g of dough
Pears 7 g / 100 g
Apple Kashmiri 9.5 / 100 g
Mangoes 10 g / 100 g
Grapes 10 g / 100 g
banana 14 / 100g
Cherries 18g / 1 cup
Sapota 12 g / 100 g

(Read also: 6 winter vegetables that may help manage diabetes amid the COVID-19 pandemic)

Sugar in vegetables

Vegetables also contain simple sugars, fructose, glucose, and sucrose (also called table sugar). The amount of sugars in the vegetable is negligible. Most vegetables contain little or no sugar and are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Vegetables are, for this reason, very low in total calories and high in nutrients. It is recommended that everyone consume at least 3 servings per day. The roots and tubers also considered as vegetables contain a higher amount of sugar.

Beets, yams, tapioca, potatoes, and sweet potatoes have higher sugars and are limited when counting calories.

Conclusion: Eat 5 servings of whole, seasonal fruits and vegetables per day. Choose fruits to satiate your sugar cravings. Read labels on processed foods to see hidden sugars like agave syrup, coconut sugar, sweet beet syrup. Maple syrup, gold syrup, molasses, maltodextrin among others.

Eat fresh, eat nutrient rich foods and stay healthy!

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About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a clinical nutritionist and has worked in major corporate hospitals. She has created and led teams of professionals to provide clinical solutions to patients in all medical specialties, including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and the Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

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