Where can I find fructose naturally?
If you want to sweeten your food or drink with a less processed sweetener than table sugar, you can make use of (corn) syrup or fructose (fruit sugar) instead.
Mainly, sweet fruits e.g. apples, pears, or agaves are processed with a vacuum technique that extracts their sweetness only: the fructose, a monosaccharide.
Coconut/Palm sugar is produced by tapping the sap of a palm. It doesn’t contain just fruit sugar but mainly saccharose (just like table sugar) which is 80% of its sweetness. Even honey contains only ca. 35% fructose, the rest is a combination of glucose, maltose, and saccharose.
Sugar syrup and rice syrup do not contain any fructose but mainly glucose. That’s why there is barely any difference in metabolization between them and table sugar.
Useful micronutrients, mineral nutrients, as well as phytonutrients remain in traces in fructose but mainly get lost during the industrial production of table sugar. Nevertheless, fruit sugar is a highly processed sweetener, it is sweeter than table sugar, and due to its lower glycemic index it doesn’t increase our blood sugar levels as much as table sugar does.
What happens when we consume fruit sugar?
Studies show that a high intake of fruit sugar as a sweetener may be linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease as well as to metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome is associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This extracted fructose – we are not talking about the fructose you consume when eating real fruit/vegetables – can trigger processes leading to chronic diseases as well as liver toxicity. Just like alcohol, fructose can increase the fat storage in our liver which is the reason for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
There is even some evidence that a high intake of this „natural sweetener“ leads to insulin resistance, disturbance of the intestinal flora, as well as digestion problems.
There are no adverse side effects of eating whole fruit. Therefore, consuming fructose in the whole fruit is different. The fiber in fruit may decelerate the release of natural fructose. And phytonutrients in whole fruits seem to inhibit some of the uptakes of sugars in the intestine. But, extracted fruit juice e.g. apple or orange juice may have the same harmful effects as sugar water would have. Therefore, it is always better to eat the whole fruit than drink the juice.
What are the pros and cons of fructose?
Artificially extracted fruit sugar as a sweetener is not healthier than table sugar. To be on the safe side, you have to reduce your overall amount of sugar consumption – no matter which sweetener you use. That’s the only way to lower your yearnings for sweetness and sweets.
+ Not as bad as table sugar neither better: traces of micronutrients, mineral nutrients, and phytonutrients
+ Slightly lower effects on blood sugar and insulin levels
– Many people suffer from fructose hypersensitivity
– Many detrimental diseases are linked to high fructose intake
– Equivalent negative effects like table sugar: causes cavities, same calories
Here are the sources for this blogpost
Alwahsh, S. M./Gebhardt, R. 2016: Dietary fructose as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), in: Archives of Toxicology, 2016.
Aroor, A. R/Habibi, J./Ford, D. A./Nistala, R./Lastra, G./Manrique, C./Dunham, M. M./Ford, K. D./Thyfault, J. P./Parks, E. J./Sowers, J. R./Rector, R. S. 2015: Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibition ameliorates Western diet-induced hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance through hepatic lipid remodeling and modulation of hepatic mitochondrial function, in: Diabetes, Vol. 64, 2015, No. 6, pp. 1988-2001.
Bray, G. A./Nielsen, S. J./Popkin, B. M. 2004: Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity, in: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 89, 2004, pp. 537-543.
Bray, A. G. 2013: Energy and Fructose From Beverages Sweetened With Sugar or High-Fructose Corn Syrup Pose a Health Risk for Some People, in: Advanced Nutrition, Vol. 4, 2013, pp. 220-225.
Lustig, R. H./Schmidt, L. A./Brindis, C. D. 2012: The Toxic Truth About Sugar, in Nature, Vol. 482, 2012, No. 7383, pp. 27-29
Vilà, L./Rebollo, A./Ađalsteisson, G. S./Alegret, M./Merlos, M./Roglans, N./Laguna, J. C. 2011: Reduction of liver fructokinase expression and improved hepatic in ammation and metabolism in liquid fructose-fed rats after atorvastatin treatment, in: Toxicology and Appled Pharmacology, Vol. 251, 2011, No. 1, pp. 32-40.