No, a Banana Does Not Have More Sugar Than a Doughnut
That article you read? It's not exactly accurate.
This story originally appeared on CookingLight.com by Brierley Horton
It's true, yes, we as Americans eat more sugar than we should-about 19½ teaspoons per day (that's 82 grams), which adds up to 66 pounds a year. That's about 2 to 3 times what's recommended, depending on your daily calorie limits. And so it's wise that we limit sugar-laden foods (Feeling like you need to break your sugar habit? Here are 3 tips).
But, not all sugar is exactly the same. So when a recent HuffPost article made the claim that certain healthy breakfast items had more sugar than a doughnut, we weren't terribly surprised to see them insinuating that you should trade your banana at breakfast for a doughnut. (Related: Is Sugar Really a Toxic Substance?)
HuffPost's piece pointed out that one yellow-skinned fruit has more five grams more of the sweet stuff.
But what HuffPost glazed over (pun intended) is that number is total sugar. And 100% of the sugar in the banana is natural. It's called fructose. (Related: Ever Wonder What All That Sugar *Really* Does to Your Body?)
Those natural sugar grams don't count towards your daily sugar limit. But added sugars-which are the ones in a donut-are the kind you need to watch and curb back on. (Related: Here's Exactly What You're Eating In a Dunkin Donut)
Added sugars are, well, added to foods and drinks during processing and preparation. In fact, sugar is added to 68% of packaged foods and drinks in the U.S. So, compare the added sugar in a doughnut versus a banana and here's how it shakes out:
- Dunkin' Donuts Glazed Doughnut: 260 calories, 12g sugar (about 9g added)
- Banana (large): 102 calories, 17g sugar (0g added)
Why is that difference important? Eat a banana and you'll get a good hit of fiber and potassium, as well as other key vitamins and minerals. A doughnut contains what we call "empty calories"-there's not much in the way of nutritional value. This particular doughnut delivers 30% (6g) of your daily limit for saturated fat and 330mg sodium (or 15% of your day's total), without any good-for-you vitamins or minerals. (Related: Did You Know That Sugar Is One of the 7 Most Addictive Legal Substances)
But wait: I'm not here to suck all of the sweet, indulgent fun out of life. Go ahead, enjoy a doughnut on occasion. (I have my moments, too!) Just don't think that sticky, sugary, glazed, goodness is actually a healthier choice than a banana (or that pizza is healthier than Raisin Bran, or that any junk food is better than a whole food). And-perhaps the most important takeaway here is-when you track your sugar intake-pay attention to added sugars.