5 On Your Side

Sugar: Friend or foe?

Is the sugar in fruit bad for you? The body responds differently to sugar found in fruit and sugar that is in cake, candy and soda.

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Monica Laliberte
, WRAL consumer reporter
N.C. — Is the sugar in fruit bad for you?

The sugars in a piece of fruit and a candy bar are essentially the same. The difference, however, is how a person's body processes the sugars in fruit.

The fiber in fruit helps slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream.

"You also get plenty of vitamins and minerals by eating fruit," said Trisha Calvo, the health and food editor at Consumer Reports magazine. "Studies have shown that it can help with weight control and protect against some cancers and heart disease."

The consumer magazine advises that most people need to eat more whole fruit, with a goal of consuming between 1½ to 2 cups of fruit per day.

Sugars that should be consumed in moderation are added sugars, those found in cakes, candies and sodas.

So what about fruit juice?

"The sugars you get from fruit juice are almost as bad as the sugars that are added to food," Calvo said. "Although juice has vitamins and minerals, most lack the fiber found in fruit. So, the sugars are digested quickly."

People who drink smoothies should be careful.

Some are made with fruit juice, yogurt or sorbet, which could have added sugars. Consumers should check the label for added sugars on any store-bought fruit smoothies.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to require later this year that nutrition fact labels contain specific information about added sugars.

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