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What Is Fructose?

There are three main types of sugar:

  • Glucose: made when your body breaks down starches.
  • Sucrose: table sugar.
  • Fructose: the sugar found naturally in fruits and honey.

Fructose in crystalline form has been widely used for the past 20 years as a nutritive sweetener in foods and beverages. Fructose and HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), as large-scale commercial sweeteners, are now almost as common as sucrose-plain old white sugar. HFCS is routinely added to processed foods and beverages including Coca-Cola, Snapple, and many health food products.

The diets of our ancestors contained only very small amounts of fructose. These days, estimates are that about 10% of the modern diet comes from fructose.

It was once thought that fructose was a good substitute for sucrose. However, the American Diabetes Association and nutritional experts have changed their minds about this.

High fructose consumption has been fingered as a causative factor in heart disease. It raises blood levels of cholesterol and another type of fat, triglyceride. It makes blood cells more prone to clotting, and it may also accelerate the aging process.

A small amount of fructose, such as the amount found in most vegetables and fruits, is not a bad thing. In fact, there is evidence that a little bit may help your body process glucose properly. However, consuming too much fructose at once seems to overwhelm the body's capacity to process it.

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