Fructose: how harmful is it?

Fructose has been recommended to diabetics for a long time, and it was once thought to be the “healthier” sugar. But why has its reputation been deteriorating for so long, and how can one manage to consume less of it?

Fructose hasn’t lost its reputation as a “healthy” sugar for no reason. Despite the fact that the simple sugar provides energy, there is no sense of satiety. One reason for this is that, unlike other types of sugar, fructose does not activate the mechanism that causes insulin to be released from the pancreas. 

Fructose has been recommended for those with diabetes for years because they either have a lack of insulin or their bodies react less to the hormone. Many supermarkets sell a variety of “diabetic foods.” But we now know that fructose is not better for the metabolism; in fact, too much of it promotes obesity and a fatty liver. Because the majority of the metabolic processes in fructose occur in the liver.

What does fructose do in the body?

Diabetes, liver diseases, bad levels of uric acid and blood fats, and heart diseases have all been linked to eating too much fructose.

 Since 2010, there have been no special “diabetic foods” on the market, but fructose is found in many products such as lemonades, sweets, spreads, and ready meals. Dr Stefan Kabisch, a study doctor at the Berlin Charité, believes that fructose consumption is not the only problem, but possibly the overall high-calorie diet. Long-chain glucose is eaten four to six times more than fructose or pure glucose.

What about the fructose in fruit?

Fruit does not make you fat, but it does contain healthy nutrients and good dietary fiber. If you want to lose weight, don’t eat too much fruit and choose low-fructose fruits like berries. Kabisch agrees that fruit is not meant to be eaten, but rather enjoyed as a healthy treat.

Stock for times of crisis?

Prof. Dr. Richard Johnson of the University of Colorado School of Medicine believes that fructose activates a genetic survival mode in humans, leading to people eating bacon rolls to avoid starvation in times of crisis. However, Martin and Kabisch argue that this is not the case, as food is available at any time of the day or night, including unhealthy, sugary foods. Experimental studies on humans are prohibited due to ethical reasons.

Fructose is not solely to blame.

Kabisch warns people not to think that fructose is the cause of type 2 diabetes, cancer, or Alzheimer’s. He thinks that the risk of cancer goes up because of the changes in hormones that come with being overweight, like more oestrogens coming from adipose tissue. It is often not just one factor that triggers a disease, but several. Too much fructose can also contribute to this.

Eat less fructose: 5 tips

Our body does not need fructose. Therefore, both experts advise eating a little of it. Five simple tips for your everyday life:

1. Drink water and unsweetened tea or coffee. Avoid soft drinks, but also fruit juices and spritzers, smoothies, and mixed milk drinks. It usually contains fructose. Even light products are not an alternative, since artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes also have their negative sides.

2. Avoid highly processed foods and finished products. The Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) points out that these products contain not only sugar but also too much salt and unfavourable fats.

3. Cut down on sweets. Snack on a handful of natural nuts instead of gummy bears or chocolate kisses. Walnuts and other nuts curb cravings and provide your body with healthy, polyunsaturated fatty acids.

4. Fructose is not only found in sweet foods, but also in sauces (e.g. ketchup) or canned vegetables such as red cabbage. Take a look at the nutritional information. Pay attention not only to “fruit sugar” but also to “fructose-glucose syrup” . While you’re at it, how much other sugar is in the food?

5. Trade cleverly. Instead of sweetened fruit yoghurt or ready-to-eat muesli, grab natural yoghurt with berries and oat flakes in the morning. Dried fruit such as dates, apricots, or raisins are real fructose bombs. It’s better to eat in moderation.

Works Cited

Arndt, Stephanie. “Fruchtzucker: Wie Schädlich Ist Er?” Apotheken Umschau, 3 Apr. 2023,



4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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