At the end of the day, a large bowl of fruit salad with fresh apples – organic, unsprayed, rich in vitamins. Presenter Vera Cordes enjoyed such an evening snack with a clear conscience for a long time – until she found out that it can be harmful in excess.
Do you not always do well with a healthy diet? Don’t worry, you are not alone in this. But it’s understandable that you sometimes have a bad conscience, because after all, many don’t really know how to do it better. What could be more obvious than balancing out fast food, sweets and other everyday temptations with a few extra large portions of fruit?
A healthy idea? Not at all. Well thought, but dangerously wrong! Because obesity and a health-endangering fatty liver can be the result.
Vera Cordes has been the face of the health magazine “Visite” on NDR television for more than 20 years. She studied German, education and sports science. She then graduated from the Axel Springer School of Journalism and worked as a news editor and presenter for radio stations in Berlin and Hanover.
“I have something for you” by Vera Cordes
I didn’t realize the extent of this for a long time, but on a Tuesday evening I lost my belief in the unreservedly healthy effects of fruit. As usual after the show “Visite” on NDR television, I chatted with my studio guests for a while, and while I was enjoying a delicious, but admittedly huge mountain of fruit, one of my guests charmingly pointed out that most of the apple pieces , pineapple slices, grapes and strawberries would soon be storing fat in my stomach.
Huge amounts of fruit are not a suitable way to eat healthily, quite often the opposite. I beg your pardon? So the apple is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak? I know the picture is crooked, but you may know the lovely saying: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. No one ever said that the emphasis should be on “an” apple, because in the singular, the same applies to the daily apple. But many people – myself included – like to grab more than one. Inspired by the thought “a lot helps a lot”, you are definitely right with fruit.
But because of! There is an enemy lurking in apples that you absolutely don’t have to take into account: fructose. Colloquially referred to as fructose. Sounds like fruit and therefore pure health, but it’s not. On the contrary: fructose can be a real turbo on the way to obesity, high blood lipid levels, fatty liver and type 2 diabetes.
The big problem: This sugar sweetens more than normal table sugar. That is why the industry uses it in an enormous number of foods. For example in wellness drinks, milkshakes, mueslis, ready-made cakes, fruit yoghurts and many other ready-made products. If you don’t look at the fine print of such foods and think you can compensate for nutritional sins with more apples and the like, you’re wrong.
Our metabolism cannot do anything great with all that fructose – unlike with glucose, the grape sugar that gives us the power we need in everyday life. Of course, too much glucose also makes you fat, but at least we have the chance to prevent getting fat, because this sugar gets into the blood quickly, is quickly channeled into the muscle cells with the help of insulin during sports and other physical activities and serves there as an excellent source of energy. Great. In contrast, our body cannot get energy from fructose. It therefore converts them almost completely and stores them in the form of fat. You want an example?
Let’s say you’ve rewarded yourself with a small handful of gummy bears (100 grams) and a piece of lemon cake from the supermarket shelf (100 grams) during a stressful day at work, but being health-conscious as you are, you have two large, crunchy organic apples to compensate ready – unsprayed, fresh, all good and yet a dilemma. With the last slice of apple you eat, you have consumed almost 20 grams of fructose.
If you add the 15 grams of fructose from cake and gummy bears on top, that’s too much. Because nutritionists recommend a maximum of 50 grams a day. And in our practical example, the amounts of sugar from breakfast, lunch and dinner are still missing.
It is easy to explain why fructose can be so dangerous for us – regardless of whether it comes from an apple or a ready-made cake: once it reaches the intestines, it is, to put it simply, transported from there directly to the liver, converted into fat and stored – originally times for bad times. However, thanks to bakers, kebab shops and snack bars on every corner, these no longer take place.
In addition, the whole conversion from sugar to fat also happens without insulin release and – that’s really nasty again – without you being permanently full. Fructose doesn’t even fill you up, but makes you fat instead. Especially on the stomach. The fat cells there, however, are hormonally active, as doctors now know. They set inflammatory processes in motion and are more dangerous to our health than fat cells in other parts of the body. After enjoying a large fruit salad, a bottle of fruit juice or an opulent fruit smoothie, veritable waves of fructose flood the body and put the hard-working liver in distress.
We get the fat bill when the doctor diagnoses fatty liver at some point in the ultrasound, currently the most common chronic liver disease. Doctors used to only see the fatty organs in people who drank too much alcohol. Today, almost every fourth person worldwide has a so-called non-alcoholic fatty liver due to malnutrition. Even people who are thin on the outside can be affected, and now every third child in our country is overweight.
The good news: The liver is not unforgiving and can get back into the green zone in the early stages through a change in diet and more physical activity. However, if you do nothing, the fatty tissue can become inflamed and the risk of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and cardiovascular diseases increases.
But of course: A fatty liver does not result from eating apples alone. The real sticking point is the ubiquity of fructose in many highly processed foods. If we keep our hands off them, a few more apples won’t be an issue.
Incidentally, the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) has specified its long-standing recommendation for five portions of fruit and vegetables. Because vegetables contain little fructose compared to fruit, it should currently be three portions (400 grams in total) of vegetables and only two portions (250 grams) of fruit. One of the fruit portions can also be replaced with nuts and seeds, such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds or linseed (25 grams).
It is estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of all people in our country have a fructose intolerance. They suffer from stomach and intestinal problems as soon as they take in more than 25 grams a day. Half a liter of apple juice alone already contains 32 grams. Nutrition experts recommend no more than 50 grams of fructose a day for healthy people.