There are so many names for sugar – it can be quite confusing! Glucose and fructose are two of those names that we often see used a lot in health literature and on food labels. So how is glucose different from fructose? Is one better than the other?
Glucose and fructose are the two simple sugars that form sugar or sucrose. They are both sugars and they differ from each other, especially when it comes to the way the body processes them.
Our body produces glucose. All cells contain glucose – it is vital to life. Glucose is also found in starches like potatoes. Because it is the energy we were designed to use, glucose can be utilized by every cell in our body.
Our body does not produce fructose. There are two ways that we obtain fructose in our diet – one is healthy, the other is harmful.
- Healthy – from fruits and vegetables. The natural fructose that is found in fruits and vegetables is not harmful. Why? Because the fruit and vegetables contain fructose along with other nutritional elements such as fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Harmful – from added processed or refined sugars. Fructose in the form of added processed sugar is very harmful. Why? The only organ in our body that can metabolize fructose in significant amounts is the liver. If the liver becomes overloaded with fructose, it turns the fructose into fat. This fat ends up as elevated blood triglycerides, bad cholesterol, fat around the organs, fatty liver, and it can cause heart disease.
Important note: In our standard North American diet the fructose that we derive from whole foods is minimal compared to the fructose from refined added sugars.
Harmful effects of fructose
Heart disease and more – Sugar has recently been shown to be a leading cause of heart disease – fructose, in particular. Fructose, a major component of many highly refined foods, is the culprit because it raises the major risk factors for heart disease: increased blood glucose levels, insulin levels, LDL (bad) cholesterol, oxidized LDL cholesterol (very bad), triglycerides and increased abdominal fat.
Excess uric acid – Fructose has been shown to elevate uric acid in the body, which can lead to chronic, low level inflammation. More and more research suggests that some forms of cancer are caused by inflammation.
Leptin Resistance – Leptin is a hormone that causes your body to give you a signal that that you have had enough food. Fructose has been linked to leptin resistance, a condition where the leptin is not working properly, so there is no signal telling you when to stop eating. This can cause several health issues, particularly obesity, which in turn can lead to diabetes and heart issues.
Glucose and fructose are different and they have different effects on the body. Fructose is much more harmful for us, especially when consumed in the form of highly refined and processed food and beverages.
Are you interested in more information about healthy foods that feed your body and fit your unique lifestyle? Contact me, and we can chat!
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