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Everyone knows that fructose is the sugar found in fruit. And if it’s found in fruit it must be safe, right? Wrong. This misconception is being perpetrated by the food industry and we are falling for it, simply because most people don’t know the details or the impact. Let’s take a look at those details.
First, a few basics. Fructose is the simple sugar found in fruit. Glucose is the simple sugar that our body runs on, and is the result of carbohydrates being broken down. Sucrose (white table sugar) is a 50-50 makeup of fructose and glucose. So the first thing to remember is that white table sugar also has fructose in it. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which everyone demonizes, is a combination of 55-45 makeup of fructose to glucose (typically), and since fructose is quite a bit sweeter than glucose, that little bit makes HFCS sweeter as well. You’ll see in a moment, though, why white table sugar and HFCS should be viewed with the same suspicion.
The corn industry has a campaign that argues that sugar and HFCS are basically the same, which is accurate. But they’re arguing that they are both safe, and that we cause health problems because we all eat too much of both. The 1986 FDA report said sugar was safe when consumed in the current amounts, which, at the time, was an average of 40 pounds per year of added sugars. It would be great if people were eating 40 pounds per year — the average these days is 140 pounds. The health problems we see are coming because of the overload and because fructose metabolizes differently and with different damage, than glucose.