Russell's Blog

New. Improved. Stays crunchy in milk.

Not to sugar-coat things, but...

Posted by Russell on January 03, 2010 at 12:33 p.m.
Dr. Robert Lustig at UCSF gave a very interesting public lecture for UCTV on the relationship between sugar consumption and a host of health problems, ranging from obesity to diabetes to gout. I won't reiterate his argument, but the kernel is that he has bestowed the term "poison" on fructose. By "poison," he means poison in the same sense that alcohol is a poison. Fructose and ethanol are both chemicals that causes health problems, and that only the liver handle. Keep in mind that if the body were a city, the liver would be the part of town with the scary industrial stuff, all pipes and loud noises smokestacks and funny smells.

In the lecture, he suggests that fruit isn't necessarily bad, because fruit tends to come along with fiber, and fiber slows down the rate at which the sugar hits your blood. This gives your gut microflora a chance to get at it and metabolize it into less harmful compounds (though with the unfortunate but health-neutral side effect of flatulence).

Anyway, this got me wondering. Which sugars are in which fruit? Not all sugars, or fruits, are equal. So, here's a nice chart I made from some data I found somewhere on the internet.

I computed the ranking by generating a "badness" index as follows :

It makes me a little sad to see apples, pears and mangos down there at the bottom, though I'm delighted to see avocados at the top. Also, I would like to remind you that not everything that is quantitative is scientific, and making a nice chart of some data you find on a random web page is certainly not scientific.

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