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Ask Tufts Experts August 2011 Issue

Q: Does the sugar in fruit have the same effect in your body as regular table sugar?

Answer :  Irwin H. Rosenberg, MD, University Professor of Nutrition and Medicine at Tufts and editor of the Health & Nutrition Letter, replies, “Fruits may have more fructose than sucrose (table sugar), which has a slightly different metabolism, but the sugar in fruit is the same as table sugar in terms of calories.”

But that doesn’t mean you might as well have a candy bar as an apple. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans warn against overconsumption of added sugars, as opposed to sugars that occur naturally in foods such as fruit. The Guidelines explain, “Although the body’s response to sugars does not depend on whether they are naturally present in food or added to foods, sugars found naturally in foods are part of the food’s total package of nutrients and other healthful components. In contrast, many foods that contain added sugars often supply calories, but few or no essential nutrients and no dietary fiber.” The more you load up on foods high in added sugars, the less room in your daily calorie allotment for fruits as well as vegetables, whole grains, legumes and other healthy choices that deliver more than just calories.

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