I’ve heard it a hundred times, “so and so told me to stop eating fruit because of all the sugar, you know fruit is really high in fructose”. Fructose has been blasted for years now, but is all fructose the same? Can the sugar in fruits harm you? The thought seemed ludicrous to me, so I had to find out once and for all if my fruititarian friends were going to die from sugar overload.
What’s wrong with fructose?
It’s not metabolized the same way as glucose is. Glucose tells the pancreas to release insulin, lowering the blood sugar levels. Fructose does not. Glucose stimulates appetite stimulating hormones, fructose does not. That means if you are consuming something high in fructose (and little other nutrition), you’ll keep on eating without feeling satisfied. High levels of fructose also have an effect on LDL (bad) cholesterol, lowering the size of the particles and increasing the blood cholesterol levels (both are negative effects). All of this means it has potential links to diabetes, obesity, liver and heart disease. All three are big killers in western society.¹
Is fructose worse than other sugars?
It doesn’t matter if a product has HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), on it’s label, or some other form of refined fructose, it’s still hard on your body. Other sugars like glucose can be metabolized and used by most cells everywhere in the body. Fructose on the other hand can ONLY be metabolized by the liver. Studies show that high fructose diets weigh down the liver, and plug it up with fat leading to all kind of dangerous diseases.²
Is fructose in fruits bad?
Luckily nature has packaged up the fructose in whole foods with a bunch of vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids and so on. Unlike HFCS which is basically sugar with all the good stuff ripped out. You would have to eat a LOT of fruit in order to get the same amount of sugar you get from a can of cola. Even with honey, which has a relatively high percentage of fructose, you would have to eat over a cup of it to get that much fructose. A spoonful in your tea is nothing to worry about. The bottom line is that fructose in whole foods like fruit, comes packaged with mega nutrition. It’s going to make you feel full before you overload on sugar. Try drinking some canned juice sweetened with HFCS (don’t actually drink it, just imagine it), now try eating 10+ whole apples. You will never sit down and consume enough fructose in real food to make you sick the way refined sweeteners will. The fiber in fruits also helps to slow the absorption of the sugar, and you’ll find no fiber in HFCS. Fruits are full of good nutrition. Eating a diet of mainly fruits will actually have a cleansing effect on your body³, potentially helping to cure health problems you might have developed over years of eating a low fruit diet. Any diet that tells you to cut or limit your fruit intake, does NOT have your health as a priority. Eat your fruit!
Why do companies use high fructose corn syrup?
In short, it’s cheap and sweet! Firstly, fructose is sweeter than glucose or sucrose (sucrose is table sugar, and is composed of 1 glucose + 1 fructose bound together). Making a concoction that mostly fructose means it’s going to be very sweet and less of it is needed to get the desired taste. Secondly, as the name suggests, HFCS is made from corn. Corn is currently a very cheap commodity, and if you start to pay attention, you’ll notice modified corn ingredients are in most packaged food in the form of sweeteners, starches and fillers. Unfortunately corn is also now heavily genetically modified, the long term environmental and health effects of which are unknown. This doesn’t stop companies from using HFCS in many of their products.