Possibly we have heard a lot about carbohydrates and it is not for less, since they are chemical substances that are present in many foods and that can be divided into other compounds such as sugar.

In this sense, do sugar and carbohydrates have any relationship with something called fructose? The answer is yes, for this reason in this article we will share what this substance called fructose consists of, as well as the positive and negative effects that presents for health.

What is fructose?

Fructose is a monosaccharide type carbohydrate (a sugar that cannot be broken down), also known as fruit sugar or levulose, this is because this substance is found in many vegetables as well as in fruits .

Fructose is used in industrial applications as a sweetener in sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods, or processed fruit foods , and has been used as a sweetener for diabetics to replace sucrose.

Important: One study states that: “Fructose has been used as a culture medium, specifically to grow bacteria called lactic acid bacteria . ” (1)

What is fructose used for?

Fructose is not essential, but it is not of less importance with an adequate balance , this is because it has essential functions for the body, which are the following:

1. Produces glucose

Glucose is also a monosaccharide part of fructose with which it shares a line, since fructose must be processed in the liver and intestines , becoming fatty acids and even glucose, but with lower glycemic levels.

It is for this reason that glucose and fructose are closely related to each other but this advantage should not be exceeded.

Note: A study adds that: “Fructose has a low glycemic index (GI) , this sugar offers the advantage of a lower concentration of postprandial glucose than the same amount of other common carbohydrates” . (two)

2. Provides energy

Being a type of sugar, a carbohydrate and in turn providing minimal glucose, fructose is essential to provide energy to the body, since 1 tablespoon contains approximately 63 calories, being an acceptable caloric level in moderation.

To highlight: The small amounts of glucose from fructose are distributed to the tissues , where the cells are responsible for capturing them to later convert them into energy.

3. Increases physical performance

The consumption of fructose is highly recommended in the sports world, since apart from the energy it provides for the muscles it reduces states of fatigue and improves physical sports performance, in addition to fructose increasing muscle recovery and glycogen stores.

You should know: Glycogen stores store energy and are essential in sports performance.

How harmful is fructose?

Fructose also has a harmful side, especially if consumed at an excessive level. As an important precaution, we will show you below what are the damages that this chemical substance can cause:

1. Increases blood pressure

Excess fructose can be harmful to the cardiovascular system, since it undoubtedly increases metabolic syndrome, which is the series of risk factors for heart conditions, where hypertension is related.

Important: The metabolic syndrome occurs mainly due to the effects of insulin resistance and the excessive increase in uric acid that also affects the gastric level.

2. Raises cholesterol and triglyceride levels

The chain does not stop, if the metabolic syndrome caused by fructose increases blood pressure, it undoubtedly increases the production of cholesterol and triglycerides , especially since the presence of good cholesterol decreases when hemoglobin or blood lipids are altered.

To highlight: The risk of increasing bad cholesterol or triglyceride fats in the blood is very high due to the consumption of fructose in sweetened, artificial and processed beverages.

3. Generates insulin resistance

This can be detrimental to the glucose that fructose produces, since too much of the substance can, instead of providing energy, cause unexpected insulin resistance that prevents the body from ingesting glucose from the blood.

Note: One study notes that: “Fructose saturates metabolic pathways with an overproduction of carbons, leading to increased ketone and lactate levels, as well as insulin sensitivity . ” (3)

4. Promotes the accumulation of fat and increase in body weight

If cholesterol increases as well as triglycerides, it can be noticed that the metabolism is altered, which in bad terms can negatively lead to the accumulation of fats and with it the overweight.

You should know: The decrease in insulin causes the body (or rather the metabolism) to be forced to use fat deposits to provide calories to the body; Although it is energy, it contributes a lot to the increase in body weight in the long run and, consequently, can lead to obesity.

5. Produces gastrointestinal disorders

Fructose can negatively increase uric acid levels, causing a disorder called hyperuricemia, which occurs mainly because this acid must pass through the liver and intestines.

As a consequence, it can produce gastrointestinal disorders that are even fructose intolerance (measured at primary and secondary level), apart from causing gastric irritability and also kidney stones or problems.

How to avoid the harmful effects of fructose?

Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent the damage of fructose, either by moderating its excessive consumption or better yet, by being vigilant about (mostly artificial) products that are processed. Here are some recommendations to limit the damage that fructose can cause:

1. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary drinks and processed foods

The consumption of sugary drinks or processed foods should not be completely prohibited , since they can provide calories necessary for work and social life, however, it is not difficult to maintain a balance or moderation.

In this sense, there are several foods with artificial fructose or fructose 1 phosphate , such as corn syrup , molasses and honey, which should be consumed in moderation.

To highlight: A study mentions that: “The intestine does not tolerate large concentrations of fructose without producing significant alterations  , for this reason it is important to know that you should not exceed a consumption of 10% of this kind of sweetener. (4)

2. Read the labels of food products

The labels of food products with fructose should not be overlooked, since they contain the nutritional value that addresses its structure , including calories and the amount of sugar it has, you will also see it in the form of carbohydrates.

You should know: This helps you have an idea of ​​the amount of fructose you consume, which you should limit in order to maintain moderation in processed foods and opt for fresh foods.

3. Consume fruits and natural juices

With the aforementioned, it is much better to opt for natural fruits and juices, remembering that fructose is initially of natural origin, being found in honey, spinach , banana, papaya and avocado , foods with which you can even prepare homemade juices or smoothies. .

4. Perform physical activity on a regular basis

It is ideal to combine the moderation of fructose with physical activity, be it exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups or squats. You can also opt for something simpler like daily walks or jogs, trying to get used to it regularly.

5. Maintain a healthy diet

Eat well, beware of the consumption of foods with trans fats and those that do not have vitamins, fibers or minerals, since the aforementioned fruits, apart from fructose, provide an incredible variety of essential minerals and antioxidant vitamins.

Tip: The recommendation is to maintain  a healthy diet rich in nutritious foods, so as not to lose balance.

Key Findings

  • Fructose is a monosaccharide sugar , which is obtained naturally or artificially.
  • Fructose consumption provides glucose, energy, contributes to physical performance and the digestion of fatty acids.
  • But it can cause health problems like insulin sensitivity, as well as increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney problems.
  • A balance must be maintained in the consumption of artificially sweetened foods with fructose, opting for the consumption of fresh fruits that contain it in a natural and healthier way.

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