A few years ago, sugar was engaged in a ground war against corn syrup, and the public relations campaign against high fructose corn syrup was so successful that even corn syrup carried labels saying 'no HFCS' while bleached white sugar was portrayed as a healthier alternative.
But now bleached white table sugar is under the gun also. It doesn't make much difference, really, sugar is sugar. And replacing fructose with glucose won't do a thing to make people healthier, according to a paper in Current Opinion in Lipidology, which shows that when portion sizes and calories are the same, fructose and glucose are the same.
Using data from previous research trials, Dr. John Sievenpiper, a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael's, and colleagues compared the effects of fructose and glucose against several health risk factors. The study found that consuming fructose may increase total cholesterol and postprandial triglycerides, a type of fat found in blood. However, fructose did not appear to affect insulin production, other fat levels in the blood stream or markers of fatty liver disease any more than glucose did.
In fact, fructose showed potential benefits over glucose in some key risk factor categories.
"Despite concerns about fructose's link to obesity, there is no justification to replace fructose with glucose because there is no evidence of net harm," said Sievenpiper."Some health care analysts have thought fructose to be the cause of obesity because it's metabolized differently than glucose. In calorie-matched conditions, we found that fructose may actually be better at promoting healthy body weight, blood pressure and glycemic control than glucose."
Fructose, a simple sugar found in honey, fruit, vegetables and other plants, is also the basis of high-fructose corn syrup – a sweetener often found in commercially prepared foods. The combination of both fructose and glucose produces sucrose, generally known as table sugar.
Sievenpiper said overconsumption, rather than a type of sugar, is one of the leading causes of obesity. "Overall, it's not about swapping fructose with glucose. Overeating, portion size and calories are what we should be refocusing on – they're our biggest problems."