We all know fructose is some type of sweetener, we see it listed on so many food labels: ketchup, soft-drinks, energy drinks, cereals, cookies, breads, crackers, ice creams, canned soups, and more. And most of us think fructose has something to do with fruits. So in some way it’s okay; it’s just some sweetener thing derived from natural fruit sugar.
But it’s not. Well it’s half true. Fructose is one of the main sugars from fruits, the others being sucrose and glucose, so that’s true. But the fructose found in processed foods is an entirely different story.
Food manufacturers and producers are sweetening our food with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which does not come from fruits at all. It comes from a highly processed blend derived from corn, which many times can be genetically modified.
Too much HFCS in the diet means extra calories and can lead to unwanted weight gain. In addition to the unwanted pounds, weight gain can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
The best way to reduce HFCS and other added sugars in your diet is check the products that you consume and look out for it on the labels. Added sugars are listed on ingredient labels as HFCS, fructose, sucrose, glucose, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, corn sweetener, honey and dextrose. Limit these as much as possible and try to get your sweet fix from whole fruit instead. Not only are you getting natural sugar this way, you are also getting much needed fiber and antioxidants.
The American Heart Association has specific guidelines for added sugar — no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That’s about six teaspoons of added sugar for women and nine for men.
Just to put this in perspective, one 12-ounce soft drink or 1.5 fruit-flavored eight-ounce cups of yogurt has 10 teaspoons of added sugar, that’s already above the guidelines for the entire day!
Most Americans get more than 22 teaspoons — or 355 calories — of added sugar a day, which far exceeds both the USDA guidelines and American Heart Association recommendations.
Tips to reduce the added sugar in your diet
- Limit sugar-laden sodas.
- Limit candy high in added sugar.
- Limit the non-nutritious, sugary and frosted cereals.
- Check to see that your canned fruit is packed in water or natural juice, not syrup.
- Go easy on condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce, and salad dressings.
- Avoid fast food – it’s usually high in HFCS.
- Have fresh fruit as a sweet treat.
- Snack on vegetables.
- Look for 100 percent organic labels, then it’s HFCS-free.