Tag Archives: anti-oxidant

Fruit and Fructose

No matter what point you’re at on the journey towards health through optimizing your nutrition, more information is always a plus.  The transition away from mostly boxed, processed foods to fresh produce consisting of colorful fruits and vegetables is always a big step.  Looking at the quality of the produce and opting to pay a little extra now for certified organic (instead for piles of meds later) is another major step in the nutrition evolution.

One thing to keep in mind at the grocery store and again in the kitchen is the fact that fruits and vegetables contain sugar.  Granted, when consuming sugar these are bar none your best source, the fact remains that each packs a delicious dose of fructose.  There is a reason that fruits in particular are so delicious and considered nature’s dessert.

“Oh great; now he’s saying fruits are bad and we shouldn’t eat them either.” That’s not what we’re saying at all.  Fruit is great, and along with the fructose can deliver ample beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc.  However, too much fruit can actually be a bad thing due to the high fructose content, especially if you are watching your weight or struggling with diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.  (Once again my mother’s suggestion of moderation comes to mind.)

Another interesting fact is that sugar actually inhibits the release of human growth hormone (HGH) which is one of the main factors behind building muscle.  Something to think about if you are still opting for a high sugar, fruit smoothie after that workout.

The following is an excerpt from a recent article on Mercola.com pertaining to this topic.  After that, there are links to charts illustrating the approximate fructose content in various fruits and vegetables, if you wish to keep a closer eye on your levels, or are just curious.

“Most overweight Americans have some degree of insulin and leptin resistance. This also includes people with diabetes, and many individuals with high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

If you fall into this category, it would be prudent for you to restrict your fructose consumption to about 15 to 25 grams of fructose per day from all sources.

Those who are normal weight and relatively healthy may also benefit from reducing their intake of fructose, particularly from foods containing high fructose corn syrup or sugar, as the effects of high sugar and HFCS intake may have effects that build up over time.

Naturally, fruits also have fructose but contain many beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. For someone who is obese, one has to be careful with eating fruits that have substantial fructose content. Some fruits, such as lemons and limes, have minimal fructose content and are safe.

Other fruits, such as grapefruit, kiwi, and berries, also have relatively low fructose content and high levels of nutrients. However, fruit juices, dried fruits, and some fruits that are rich in fructose (such as pears, red apples, and plums) should be eaten relatively sparingly.

There was just a paper published in the British Medical Journal, which looked at individual fruits as a risk factor for obesity and diabetes,” Dr. Johnson says. “Certain fruits, which we know have relatively low-sugar content and very high vitamin and antioxidant contents, are actually quite healthy. Berries, in particular blueberries, are very, very healthy.

But juices, where you put all the fruit together and you get a lot of sugar in one glass, it’s just too much. When you drink that, you can flood your liver with fructose, and then that will overwhelm the benefits of all the antioxidants. You’ll still get an increased risk for fatty liver, obesity, and diabetes from fruit juice.”

If you are concerned about any of this and interested in tracking your intake, the following chart can be used as a reference guide to help you get and stay on track:


For the most part vegetables are relatively extremely low in fructose and should be consumed without concern.  However, if you are someone who struggles with weight and or cravings and would like the follow the 15-25g of fructose/day stringently, the link below is a quick reference of fructose content in various veggies:






Boost Your Health With…Chocolate???

In keeping with the positive, light-hearted spirit of the season, this week’s post serves as a gift.  So often it seems that most healthy recommendations involve cutting out the “good” stuff.  However, some of the traditional “good” stuff can actually be good for you, and that includes almost everyone’s favorite: chocolate.

Now hopefully you didn’t just cut your reading of this article off there and inhale the nearest chocolate bar.  The type of chocolate and accompanying ingredients dictate whether or not its consumption can empower or devour you.  Oh come on, you didn’t think it was going to be that easy.

When we talk about “healthy” chocolate, we are referring to pure, organic dark chocolate.  This type of chocolate is actually quite bitter on its own, which is why if you buy a manufactured dark chocolate product it usually comes to the party with an entourage of sugars, unhealthy artificial sweeteners, soy, etc.

As with any product, you’re going to want to take the time to scan the ingredients and make your decision based upon your knowledge, what’s important to you and what research you believe.  To ensure you reap some of the benefits we are about to go over, you’re going to want to choose a product that lists cacao as the main ingredient.

The cacao tree (aka cocoa tree) is a small tree indigenous to the tropical regions of Central and South America.  Its seeds serve as the source for various forms of cacao such as powder, paste or butter.  All of which can be used to make what we know and love as chocolate.  As with all foods, the less processing before it enters your pie hole, the better.

One of chocolate’s main beneficial properties comes from the presence of a large quantity of antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids.  We throw terms like antioxidants around so much that a brief review will help illustrate the benefits.

While we function throughout the day, millions of cells are constantly performing functions on a microscopic level that enable us to live.  A by-product of this cellular function or oxidation, is what are referred to as free radicals.  Free radicals are a highly reactive chemical species that cause damage to cells throughout the body contributing to everything from  cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and cataracts (to name a few).   When functioning properly, our bodies are designed to discard harmful free radicals up to a certain point.  However, things such as stress, poor diet, sickness, strenuous exercise, and smoking can lead to a level of free radicals that exceeds our body’s natural capacity to break them down.

If you are alive, it is impossible to avoid the formation of free radicals.  The trick is to limit the formation AND provide your body with added free radical fighters, or anti-oxidants.  Many foods and supplements possess anti-oxidative properties (measured as ORAC), but pure cacao boosts three to ten times the anti-oxidative properties than foods like blueberries or cranberries.

Many of chocolate’s beneficial properties are mainly a consequence of what was just explained.  Reported benefits include:

Improved glucose metabolism/diabetic control

Controlling blood pressure

Improved heart health and overall cardiovascular system

Anti-inflammatory (ah inflammation, the common denominator in almost every pathology)

Relatively high levels of resveratrol which has been shown to be potently neuro-protective and possibly life extending

Recent research has even found that regular consumption of an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day led to a reduction in stress hormones and anxiety.

Remember, this is not an open invitation to go on a no holds barred, unsensored chocolate binge.  If you do choose to add a mostly pure form of chocolate to your regimen, it should be consumed in moderation (one study noted 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day, which is about a half a bar a week to be optimal) and in addition to all of the other lifestyle changes we continuously harp on.

Many of these benefits are due to the anti-oxidative properties, which is highest in pure cacao powder and progressively drops off in unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and milk chocolate (milk can actually prevent the absorption of some anti-oxidants); respectively.  Also, remember the more processed, the longer the list of ingredients and higher sugar content, the higher the collateral damage and diminishing effects on the benefits.

Natural, organic cacao powder, paste, butter can be purchased online or at most health food stores.  You can use this to add a tasty boost to your smoothie or as the main ingredient in your holiday hot chocolate.  With a little bit of preparation, research and experimentation, you can also create your own “healthy” chocolate.  If it’s too bitter, you can use a natural sweetener such as stevia or xylitol.

So go get yourself some cacao powder, a little bit of stevia, mix it with your heated reverse osmosis water and some coconut or almond milk to enjoy a holiday classic that tastes great while also providing a health boosting punch.






Sepehr Bahadorani, Arthur J Hilliker. Cocoa confers life span extension in Drosophila melanogaster. Nutr Res. 2008 Jun;28(6):377-82