The effect of fructose on human health has been the source of much controversy. This is because people are consuming more fructose than ever, due to the addition of sugar and high fructose corn syrup in processed foods.
Fructose is a natural sugar present in fruits, fruit juices, certain vegetables, and honey. In these forms, fructose sugars can be part of a nutritious diet.
However, fructose is also a component of high fructose corn syrup, which manufacturers make from corn starch and add to foods such as sodas and candies. These foods are less nutritious, but a person can eat them in moderation.
Researchers are studying the links between high fructose foods and obesity, diabetes, and even some cancers. However, some evidence indicates that fructose is not necessarily a public health concern when a person consumes it in moderation.
This article covers whether fructose is bad for health, the different types of sugar, and the research into their effects on the human body.
Fructose comes from natural foods, such as honey or fruits, and it can be healthy as part of a balanced diet. However, people
Some research suggests fructose can adversely affect a person’s health in several ways.
They also found that excess fructose consumption may have links to an increased development of fat, as it may alter how the body breaks down fats and carbohydrates.
Moreover, fructose consumption could lead to increased food consumption, as it may not make people feel as full.
A 2016 study discovered similar results. The research looked at the effects of fructose-rich drink consumption in those aged 12–16 years in Taiwan. People who drank more fructose-rich drinks had higher levels of insulin resistance.
According to the
Fatty liver disease can lead to liver damage and inflammation, which can lead to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a serious condition that can cause:
Researchers in one
The newer study found that the fructose did
However, further studies on humans are necessary to confirm the effects of fructose on cancer.
Although there is much evidence that excess fructose consumption has negative effects on health, it is difficult for researchers to separate the effects of fructose in the diet from those of other sugars.
This is because foods with high levels of added fructose usually also contain high levels of other sugars, such as glucose. Scientists conduct many research studies into the effects of fructose in rats fed combinations of sugars.
The authors also argue that, while sugar-sweetened drinks contain fructose, they are also high in calories. This may explain some links between fructose and obesity.
To date, the
The FDA lists high fructose corn syrup — the most controversial of the fructose-containing foods — as safe to eat.
However, people should limit their intake of all added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup and sucrose.
Fructose is a very sweet, naturally occurring caloric sweetener. It can come from fruits, fruit juices, honey, and even some vegetables.
Pure fructose is also much sweeter than other types of sugar. As a result, people can use less fructose than other sugars in cooking to achieve the same sweetness.
The most significant sources of fructose in the diet include:
- table sugar
- agave nectar
- fruit juices
- high fructose corn syrup, which is
presentin candy, baked goods, and sodas, and other processed foods
High fructose corn syrup
Manufacturers create high fructose corn syrup by adding certain enzymes to corn starch, which is essentially pure glucose, another type of sugar. They then use this glucose to create a syrup that contains varying amounts of fructose.
Most varieties of high fructose corn syrup contain either
Honey is another common food additive. The substance
Fructose can bind to glucose to make sucrose, or table sugar.
Unlike fructose, the body largely breaks glucose down in the cells. The small intestine usually absorbs this sugar and sends it out to the body’s cells for energy. The body digests fructose with glucose more easily than fructose alone.
When a person consumes glucose, the chemical structure of the compound triggers the pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that allows cells to use glucose for energy.
As a result, fructose may lead to weight gain because it may contribute to overeating.
There are two types of fructose: naturally-occurring fructose and high fructose corn syrup. The body digests both in the same way.
Examples of natural foods naturally high in fructose or fructans, which are long chains of fructose, include:
- agave syrup
- apple juice
- dry figs
Some vegetables contain fructose, but this is usually in smaller amounts than fruits. These include:
- chicory roots
- Jerusalem artichokes
Fructose in processed foods
A person wishing to reduce their intake of dietary fructose and fructans should avoid food with the following sweeteners:
- high fructose corn syrup
- palm sugar
A person should limit their consumption of foods that commonly contain high fructose corn syrup. These include packaged baked goods, candy, and sweetened drinks.
Fructose is naturally present in many fruits and vegetables, which people can include as part of a nutritious, balanced diet.
The FDA states fructose is a safe ingredient to add to foods. It adds that there is not enough evidence to say the substance is less safe than other similar sugars, such as sucrose and honey, but it recommends limiting all added sugars.
When people eat or drink lots of high fructose foods, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, they are also taking in extra calories that can contribute to weight gain.
There is no recommended daily minimum or maximum fructose intake because a person does not need this sugar to survive. Manufacturers add fructose to foods as a sweetener, but it has little nutritional value.
Where possible, doctors recommend that people eat fresh, whole foods and avoid frequently eating foods with added sugars.