Feelgood Health

Fructose: A Natural Sugar, But How Healthy is it Really?

Recently fructose has been receiving a bad rap for being responsible for the increasing weight gain and possibly the obesity epidemic in so many children and adults. In order to understand whether fructose is to blame, we take a look at the facts emerging from research to find out whether this “healthy sugar” is bad for our health.

What is fructose?

Fructose is a sweetener which occurs naturally in fruit and honey. Because fructose is considered a ‘natural sweetener’, it is therefore assumed to be a healthy sugar alternative. It is referred to as a simple sugar or monasaccharide because it is a single sweetening molecule. 

Fructose is a component of table sugar or sucrose – table sugar is half fructose and half glucose which combined is very sweet! In fruit, there are very small amounts of fructose available providing your body with a bit of sweetness and making it easy to process.

As fructose has a low glycemic index, it doesn’t really affect blood glucose levels and is beneficial for people with diabetes or trying to control their weight.

However, when consuming fructose in large amounts, as a food additive rather than naturally in a fruit or vegetable, fructose turns from nice to nasty from a health point of view! Unfortunately, in today’s Western diet, we get our sugars from more than just fruits and honey, and that is where the problem lies.
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What is HFCS?

HFCS or high fructose corn syrup is a combination of glucose and fructose made from synthesised enzymes to convert glucose syrup from corn. Lots of people think that fructose and HFCS are the same. However, there is a difference.

Firstly, fructose is much sweeter than HFCS and sucrose (table sugar). While both are sweeteners, fructose is natural while HFCS is manufactured chemically. There are two forms of HFCS - HFCS 55 which contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose while HFCS contains 42% fructose and 58% glucose.

HFCS is commonly used in fizzy drinks, jams and yoghurt, ice cream, desserts, canned fruits and other sweetened processed foods.
Food and beverage manufacturers use more HFCS in their products and less sugar and calories, thereby getting more sweetness and saving more money.
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Is fructose bad for health?

There are conflicting reports about the benefits and disadvantages of fructose. Food and beverage manufacturers maintain that fructose is ‘healthier’ than sugar and deny that it is  responsible for weight gain, an increase in appetite or even diabetes. Their argument remains that while many fructose-filled foods can result in weight gain, it also holds true that so can eating other foods too.  

However, research is increasingly suggesting that eating fructose as an added sugar made from corn starch is definitely a health risk.

A large intake of fructose can also place strain on the liver causing toxic overload and raising the levels of triglycerides. It can also increase the risk of high cholesterol levels, heart disease, liver disease, premature wrinkling and aging.

One of the problems is that fructose or HFCS is so prevalent in processed food and beverages that unless we are very careful, our consumption of these substances is way above levels that are healthy for us and can actually cause real harm and reduce our quality of life as well as our lifespan!
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How to avoid weight gain and obesity

Use these helpful tips to manage your weight:

1. Avoid consuming added sugars

Added sugar in large quantities is not healthy! We all know that we should not ladel spoons of processed sugar into our food and drinks. However, added sugars in the form of fructose, corn syrup and HFCS is something most of us do not notice.

Read the labels and do not buy the product if you see the words, fructose, corn syrup or HFCS on the label! Cut back on sugar-laden foods and beverages such as bread, cake, biscuits, fizzy drinks, takeaways and desserts – all have added sugars!
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2. Eat fruit instead of consuming fruit juice

Fruit juice, especially store bought juice, is full of added fructose sugars and marketed as a  healthy alternative. Look at it this way – would you consume three or four oranges in one sitting? Not likely!

However, this is what you are pouring down your throat when you drink a glass of orange juice – PLUS they have added the sugars extracted from grapes, apples or pears to sweeten things up. Eat an orange instead and benefit from the vitamins and the fibre of the whole fruit.
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3.  Increase natural sugar alternatives into your diet

Aim to only eat sugar in its natural form especially if you have a sweet tooth. If you are looking for a healthy form of sweetness, eat raw or organic honey, nut butters, fruits and cook with coconut oil or use almond flour to bake. All of these, in moderation, will introduce natural sweetness to your diet and reduce the need to add sweetness.

Visit Feelgood Health for Lalibela Raw WildFlower Honey and the Crede range of nut butters and organic coconut oil – available from Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake Business Park, Cape Town or call 021 797 0193. 
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4. Exercise

If you are overweight, exercise and healthy eating is the only way to lose the excess kilos. Start slowly with gentle exercise such as walking or jogging and as you become fitter, include more cardio to your workout. Incorporate more veggies, fruit, lean meat and fish to your diet and hydrate your body with plenty of fresh water.
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5. Detox your body

Give your body a good detox to get rid of all the nasty toxins and kickstart your weight loss journey. A herbal remedy such as Detox Drops from Feelgood Health is the perfect detox treatment to cleanse your body’s system, improve liver functioning and increase energy levels. Use Detox Drops in combination with EcoSlim, a natural weight loss formula which boosts your metabolism, encourages the breakdown of fat and prevents cravings and comfort eating.
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6. Keep your sugar levels balanced

It is very important to manage your blood sugar levels if you are diabetic or insulin resistant. Curb your cravings for sweet foods and monitor your weight carefully. If you are looking for a natural alternative to control your blood sugar levels, try Triple Complex Diabetonic – tissue salts for natural blood sugar balance and control insulin and reduce the cravings for sweet foods! 
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