What is fructose?
Fructose is a monosaccharide . Monosaccaharides are carbohydrate molecules that cannot be hydrolyzed to smaller carbohydrates. Fructose makes up 50% table sugar (sucrose). Table sugar is a disaccharide as it consists of two monosacchrides: glucose and sucrose. Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruit, some vegetables and honey. It is also manufactured into other types of fructose used in the food industry which is discussed below.
How does your body use fructose?
Glucose is the main energy source for our body’s cells and is converted by the liver before it can be used by the body. When glucose is consumed,the pancreas is triggered to release insulin, a hormone that allows cells to use glucose for energy. Fructose, on the other hand, does not trigger insulin release. Leptin, the hormone that tells the brain that you are full, is also not released. What does this mean? Ultimately, consuming too much fructose could lead to insulin resistance and leptin resistance.
The different types of fructose
Fructose occurs naturally in fruits, some vegetables and honey.
Fructose is also manufactured, mainly from corn starch. When corn starch is broken down into individual glucose molecules, the end product is corn syrup, which is essentially 100% glucose. Enzymes are then added to corn syrup in order to convert some of the glucose to another simple sugar called fructose. This results is what is called High fructose corn syrup (hfcs). HFCS contains either 42 percent fructose or 55 percent fructose but can contain 90 percent fructose. When it has that much fructose, it can be put through additional processing to crystallize the syrup. After the crystals are dried, the resulting product is crystalline fructose which is 100 percent pure fructose.
Crystalline fructose (such as this one) is 100% fructose and is not the same as HFCS mentioned above.
Good to know..
- It looks similar to cane sugar.
- It is 1.5 x sweeter than cane sugar which means you will need to use much less fructose for the same sweetness as cane sugar.
- It has a low glycemic index of about 20 compared to other sugars like can sugar which is around 65.
- It improves texture and stability in baked goods and browns easily.
- According to studies, you should not consume more than 50g of fructose a day.
- Consuming too much fructose can lead to weight gain as it is not broken down by the body for energy the same way glucose is.
- Some people have fructose mapabsorption. (If you are on a gluten free diet and are still having problems with digestion, it may be good to get tested for this).
The take away
Avoid HFCS as much as possible. This includes some : soft drinks, fruit juice, a lot of packaged and processed foods such as sweets, sweetened yogurt, canned fruit, cereals, sauces and condiments, cereal and nutritional bars, coffee creamers, drizzles and syrups used for ice-cream, coffee and milkshakes, sport and energy drinks, and much more!
Pure 100% Crystallized fructose can be beneficial and a healthier alternative to cane sugar as per the reasons listed above.
As with anything in life, moderation and balance is always the key.
Note: I am not qualified in medicine or nutrition. I speak from personal experience only in the aim of helping others. As always, consult the relevant healthcare practitioner regarding any health related issues/supplements/treatment. Please read my disclaimer on my blog should you want more information. All information in this article is taken from researched articles and where possible linked to the sources. Please however, do your own research on such matters. This is purely for informative purposes as I personally find these kind of subjects interesting.