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May 31, 2024
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Are Grapes as Bad as Candy Bars? A Nutritional Comparison

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While both contain sugar, the types and effects of these sugars are significantly different.
The post Are Grapes as Bad as Candy Bars? A Nutritional Comparison appeared first on MyFitnessPal Blog.

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Are grapes as bad as candy bars? | MyFitnessPal

For health-conscious individuals and weight loss seekers, watching sugar intake is a crucial aspect of maintaining a balanced diet.

And lately, we’ve been seeing a new conversation: Are grapes as bad as candy bars? 

Recent concerns regarding blood sugar levels and disease progression has fueled this debate. While both contain sugar, the types and effects of these sugars are significantly different.

We talked to registered dietitian Brookell White to demystify this topic by comparing the nutritional information of grapes versus candy.

Comparing Nutritional Information

Grapes

Grapes are a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A typical serving size of grapes, about one cup (approx. 151 grams), contains:

  • Calories: 104
  • Carbohydrates: 27 grams
  • Sugars: 23 grams
  • Fiber: 1.4 grams
  • Vitamin C: 4% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin K: 18% of the DV

Candy Bars

Candy bars, on the other hand, are often packed with added sugars, unhealthy fats, and have minimal nutritional value. For comparison, a standard-sized candy bar (about 45 grams) typically contains:

  • Calories: 210
  • Carbohydrates: 30 grams
  • Sugars: 24 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Saturated Fat: 5 grams (25% of the DV)

Understanding the Different Types of Sugars

Natural Sugars in Grapes

The sugars in grapes are naturally occurring fructose and glucose.

According to registered dietitian White, sugars in fruit should not be a concern for most people, especially if their diet is diverse and includes foods from all food groups.

Natural sugars in fruit are accompanied by fiber, which helps modulate the body’s absorption of sugar, and slows nutrient absorption leading to more sustained energy. Grapes also contain many nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are lacking in candy bars.

“What plays a bigger role in our health are things like excess calories from overconsumption, our genetics and how active we are,” White explains. “An increase in blood sugar is a normal physiological response after a meal. This is how the cells in our body get the energy they need to do work!” 

Added Sugars in Candy Bars

Some people may believe candy bars are healthier than grapes due to their sugar content. However, candy bars contain added sugars and unhealthy fats, and are significantly higher in calories.

Let’s start with added sugars. Candy bars contain added sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup and sucrose, which provide empty calories with little to no nutritional value. These sugars are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rapid increase in blood glucose levels and an energy surplus.

Candy bars are often high in unhealthy fats, which can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease when consumed in excess.

“Foods that are more palatable and high in sugar and fat can lead to overconsumption and excess calorie intake, contributing to weight gain and other health issues,” says White.

How Many Grapes Should You Eat in One Serving?

While grapes are nutritious, moderation may be key for individuals concerned about blood sugar levels, such as diabetics or pre diabetics.

The general guideline is to consume between 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups of fruit daily (depending on your age and gender), with variety being important to ensure a range of nutrients.

According to White, beyond these recommendations, you can enjoy grapes freely without concern, but moderation is still advised for those managing carbohydrate consumption.

FAQ

Is the sugar in fruit healthy?

White emphasizes that the sugars in fruit are generally not a concern for healthy individuals. Fruits contain numerous nutrients with multiple benefits, and their sugar content should be viewed in the context of their overall nutritional profile. An increase in blood sugar is a normal physiological response after a meal, providing cells with the energy they need.

Are there healthier choices for candy bars?

“Dark chocolate is my go-to,” says White. “It contains higher amounts of cacao—the pod from the cacao tree—which means it’s more dense in nutrients like manganese, copper, magnesium, iron and others. It’s also lower in sugar and rich in the antioxidant theobromine, which can help reduce inflammation and may reduce blood pressure.” 

Are there additives in fruit?

Whole fruits, such as grapes, typically do not contain additives. It’s essential to be mindful of processed fruits, which may have added ingredients and sugars.

The Bottom Line

Comparing grapes to candy bars is not a like-for-like evaluation. Grapes, with their natural sugars and nutrient-rich profile, offer numerous health benefits and can be consumed as part of a balanced diet. Candy bars, while enjoyable, should be eaten in moderation due to their added sugars, unhealthy fats, and higher caloric content.

By understanding the differences between natural and added sugars, and following expert dietary guidelines, health-conscious individuals and weight-loss seekers can make informed choices that support their overall well-being.

The post Are Grapes as Bad as Candy Bars? A Nutritional Comparison appeared first on MyFitnessPal Blog.

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