What is Fructose?

Fructose is a simple sugar in the carbohydrate family.  It is naturally present in many fruits and in honey.  A major source of fructose is from table sugar (sucrose) which consists of a fructose and glucose molecule bound together (called a disaccharide).  It is also a major component of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is a mixture of fructose and glucose. The phrase “added sugars” usually refers to the combination of sucrose and HFCS.

What is high fructose corn syrup?

HFCS is a liquid sweetener made from corn.  The principal sugar in corn is glucose, which is only modestly sweet.  In the early 1970s scientists were able to treat the corn sugar with various enzymes to convert some of the glucose to fructose.  Depending on how much treatment is given, the relative percentages can vary from 55% fructose and 45% glucose (the typical formula used in drinks) to 42% fructose 58% glucose (the main formula used in pastries)

How much fructose are we eating?

The average intake of added sugars  in the United States is approximately 22 teaspoons a day, equating to 345 calories, of which one-third can be attributed to soft drinks or energy drinks. Currently Americans receive approximately 12% of their calories as fructose, but this can vary markedly.  The majority of the fructose is coming from sugar (sucrose) and from HFCS that has been added to foods and drinks.  Some groups are ingesting higher amounts of fructose.  For example, some studies show that adolescents and young adults may be ingesting 25% of their diet from added sugars.

 

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