The sweet deception of fructose: the low glycemic index sweetener

The sweet deception of fructose: the low glycemic index sweetener

Researchers have found that, when taken in large quantities, it can lead to fatty liver and negatively affect the immune system.


  • Fructose: what it is
  • Fructose: where it is found
  • Fructose and glucose: pay attention to this abbreviation
  • Fructose and liver
  • Fructose and the immune system

Fructose: what it is

It is found in sugary drinks, sweets and processed foods and is widely used in food production: fructose is a sugar that has a higher sweetening power than that of sucrose and a low glycemic index. These characteristics have made it very popular as a healthier sugar substitute, even for diabetics. It is no coincidence that in recent years there has been an ever-increasing consumption. Recently, however, there are many scientific researches that have also highlighted the negative effects of this sweetener, if consumed in large quantities. Taken both through food and in the form of syrups used as an ingredient in the confectionery and beverage industry, it can have negative effects on lipid metabolism because it causes an increase in blood triglycerides, as well as being a risk factor for obesity, for the liver (fatty liver) and the immune system.

Fructose: where it is found

In nature, fructose is found in fruit (to which it owes its name), but also in honey and vegetables. Ripe grapes, bananas and tomatoes are just some of the foods with the highest content of this sugar. However, it abounds in many processed foods (such as candies, sweet drinks, fruit juices, breakfast cereals, energy bars …) where it is used to sweeten and to preserve food for longer.

Fructose and glucose: pay attention to this abbreviation

The high dose of fructose added to foods is intended to enhance their palatability. We can identify its presence on the label through this acronym: HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). It is glucose-fructose syrup in which the fructose content can vary from 5% to 50%. If fructose represents more than 50% of the syrup, the name on the ingredient list is written as "fructose-glucose syrup", in acronym HFCS.
In a food day we can take a high dose of fructose derived from baked goods, biscuits, snacks, soft drinks, drinks sweetened with glucose and fructose syrup, spreadable chocolate, jams, candies, sweets …

Fructose and liver

Fructose, once introduced into our intestine, reaches the liver, where it can be transformed into fatty acids, in particular into palmitic acid (dominant saturated fatty acid in palm oil, hence the name) contributing to the onset of hepatic steatosis ( fat liver). This ability to induce fatty liver was already known to the ancient Egyptians, who, not by chance, fed ducks and geese with dried fruit to make their version of 'foie gras'.

Today, a study conducted by the University of California School of Medicine, and published in the scientific journal Nature Metabolism, confirmed that fructose negatively affects the liver only after it reaches the intestine, where sugar disturbs the epithelial barrier that protects the internal organs from bacterial toxins. For the researchers it was interesting to note that the intake of fructose, when reduced below a certain threshold, did not cause negative effects, suggesting that only the excessive and long-term consumption of fructose poses a health risk. A moderate intake of fructose through normal fruit consumption is, however, well tolerated.

Fructose and the immune system

Scientists have also recently focused on the effects of this sugar on the immune system. A study by the University of Swansea, published in Nature Communications, has established that fructose, when used in large quantities in the diet, predisposes to the production of more reactive molecules associated with inflammation. This can damage cells and tissues and help cause the body's organs and systems to fail, leading to disease.

The watchword is, therefore, moderation and attention to industrial foods that we bring to the table. We take into account that already with the fruit, which it is recommended to consume more, a certain amount of fructose is naturally assumed. And since the problems caused by fructose arise as a result of high and continuous consumption over time, experts recommend limiting its use as a sweetener and reducing the consumption of foods and drinks formulated with fructose and high-content corn syrups. fructose.

Category: Welfare
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