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Harvard says get your safe sugar fix this way

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All the fuss over sugar seems easily solved by just indulging your sweet tooth with a healthier option: fruit. But it turns out, that even though all of us should be eating more fruits and vegetables, research shows that not all fruits are created equal when it comes to health effects.

The various fibers, phytochemicals and other substances in fruit determine how your body responds to a piece of fruit. And don’t get me started on fruit juice. I used to be hooked on juice, drinking it at every meal. Until I realized that a pasteurized glass of juice bought at the supermarket, even if it’s organic, is too rich in sugar for anybody’s good. Plus, it’s had the fruit’s fiber and many of its beneficial chemicals taken out.

Fruity goodness

If you’re looking for a fruit treat, the trio you should focus on, according to research at Harvard, consists of blueberries, apples and grapes.

A study that included about 190,000 people and covered about 25 years showed that people who eat these fruits twice a week or more reduce their risk of diabetes by 23 percent compared to those who eat less or none of the fruits.

The research was pretty thorough, examining consumption of grapes, raisins, peaches, plums, apricots, prunes, bananas, cantaloupe, apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and blueberries. They researchers also analyzed consumption of apple, orange, grapefruit and other fruit juices.

In the study, people who consumed one or more servings of fruit juice each day increased their risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 20 percent. “While fruits are recommended as a measure for diabetes prevention, previous studies have found mixed results for total fruit consumption., says researcher Qi Sun. “Our findings provide novel evidence suggesting that certain fruits may be especially beneficial for lowering diabetes risk.”

Beneficial components

The two compounds found in blueberries, grapes and apples that researchers think are especially good for you are resveratrol and quercetin. Resveratrol, which has received a lot of publicity because it is also found in red wine has been shown to:

  • Fight inflammation and gum disease.
  • Help defend against gout.
  • Lower your risk of cancer.
  • Help promote healthier muscle tissue.

At the same time, concentrated forms of quercetin, in lab tests, are being being investigated as a way to increase life expectancy. Other benefits of quercetin include:

  • The promotion of liver health in older women.
  • Increasing the body’s defenses against skin cancer.
  • Protecting retinal tissue in the eye.
  • Boosting the body’s defenses against ovarian cancer.

A matter of taste

Now I know that to someone accustomed to snacking on chocolate chip cookies, cake or candy bars, the idea that blueberries, grapes and apples are sweet treats may seem unappealing.

But that’s because your taste buds have become accustomed to the sugar that’s been loaded into just about every processed food sitting on a supermarket shelf. Worse, you might have become desensitized because artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than natural sugars.

To reverse this, eat these three fruits and avoid processed sugar for a while and your taste buds will return to normal. Since I’ve switched over to the paleo way of eating, I have found there’s no turning back. After you’ve feasted on paleo a while, those processed goodies that are intensely sweet just taste sickly sweet. And good health feels better than refined sugar ever tasted.

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