Research Supports the Benefits of Fructose

For Immediate Release
Beth Hubrich, MS, RD

Research Supports the Benefits of Fructose

ATLANTA (April 22, 2009) – New research indicates that fructose may be a beneficial part of the diet, contrary to recent reports. Fructose occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables as well as honey. Often confused with high fructose corn syrup (which contains nearly equal amounts of glucose and fructose and is handled by the body in the same way as sucrose), fructose has a low glycemic index and does not cause surges and dips in blood glucose levels.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 34 percent of Americans are obese and more than 32 percent are overweight. Weight maintenance involves many factors, such as healthful eating habits (including balance and moderation), exercise and long-term commitment. Allegations that one component of the diet, such as fructose, is responsible for weight gain, metabolic syndrome or diabetes, cannot be supported, especially when other dietary and lifestyle factors are not controlled.

“Rising obesity rates have now been linked to the presence of sugars in the food supply and to the absence of sugars from the food supply,” notes Dr. Adam Drewnowski, a professor at the University of Washington. “Consumers find it difficult to know who to believe,” he further states.

Research by Dr Bernadette Marriott, Senior Scientist and Principal Associate for Abt Associates; found that although dietary fructose consumption has increased in recent decades, relative consumption of fructose compared to other sugars has remained constant. Further, a 2008 meta-analysis by Geoffrey Livesey and Richard Taylor found that moderate fructose consumption (50 grams or less per day) had no negative effect on the body and may even be beneficial. High doses of pure fructose (100 grams/day or less) had no effect on body weight. Marriott also found that average fructose consumption across all age groups is approximately 49 grams per day, which is well below the 100 gram threshold found by Livesey and Taylor and at a level they report may provide benefits.

Further, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that from a weight loss perspective it wasn’t the foods participants ate but how many calories they consumed and US consumption trends from 1977 – 2004 show an 18 percent increase in energy intake (calories). Fructose is the sweetest of the nutritive sweeteners, so less is needed to sweeten foods and beverages, resulting in calorie savings.