Thoughts on an Apple

for KoolKosherKitchen’s Apple Challenge

I’ve never given apples much consideration. Well, not serious consideration. I’ve enjoyed a nice crisp apple now and again, love the flavor – sort of sweet and tangy all in one savory bite – and I love the texture too. I know of their health benefits, but as a diabetic, I also know of their harm – fructose.

Back as a teenager, there was a craze going on for diabetics. Fructose, sold in a bag of little crystals. My mom, ever the one to seek out new crazes to help her diabetes, was sold on this new sugar that was supposed to be good for diabetic use, an alternative to regular table sugar, saccharine and the latest artificial sweetener, aspartame. What she didn’t know then was that it was perhaps the worst thing she could have been consuming. And she consumed a lot of it too as her diabetes became more and more out of control.

Fructose doesn’t digest well in the body. It cannot be used in the same way as glucose (table sugar) because it cannot cross the barrier wall of our cells and pass into the blood stream to be used for energy. Instead, it goes straight to the liver and gets flushed through our body that way. And it is one of the main factors in fatty liver disease. What researches have discovered is that High Fructose Syrup (derived from corn, not fruit) is what has caused the obesity dilemma we are faced with today and is the catalyst to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Although it is a highly concentrated form of fructose, it is still fructose. Once you have become so insulin resistant, any amount of fructose (and anything that can be transformed into glucose – sugar, starches, and other carbohydrates) becomes a problem for a diabetic.

So should we be avoiding apples and all fruit as a diabetic? The experts say not necessarily. The one good thing about most fruit is fiber and our bodies need fiber. Apples, pears and berries are the best fruit for diabetics because they have the highest fiber content, and fiber slows down the fructose absorption into the liver, therefore preventing sugar spikes. But you have to eat the whole fruit. No juices. And you can only have them in small quantities.

So while I can no longer indulge in one or two apples a day, I can share an apple with my father now and again (he too is diabetic). One small to medium apple provides both of us with its sweet and tangy goodness. And in Autumn, when the leaves are changing and the air is crisp and cool, I always find myself craving apples. And being able to have and share one – well, that’s a good thing!