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Fructose Exonerated?

Fructose Exonerated?
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From Ron Hoffman, MD

Is fructose the demon-spawn?

Let’s cut through the confusion . . .

There’s long been a symbiosis between humans and fruit. Ancient fruit provided sustenance to humans—not that the fruit cared. Its evolutionary impetus to be sweet and attractive was to entice paleo humans to consume it, and then spread its seeds far and wide, thus extending its geographical range as a survival strategy.

In turn, fruit nourished humans, not merely with calories, but also with beneficial polyphenols. This ensured that bipedal seed-dispersers would remain healthy and mobile.

But paleo fruit was paltry and seasonal, often requiring high energy expenditure to acquire. Current varieties are the products of intensive breeding and hybridization designed to amp up size, palatability, and sweetness. Hence their sugar content is a far cry from that of their ancient predecessors. And thanks to the marvels of modern transport and refrigeration, they’re ubiquitous yearlong.

From fruits we get fructose. That and honey were our main sources of fructose until the 1960s, when food processors tapped the bounty of inexpensive U.S. corn. This coincided with the geopolitical constraint of our estrangement from Cuba, a major exporter of sugar cane. HFCS is cheaper to make than table sugar, which now comes mostly from sugar beets—of which the U.S. is second only to Russia in cultivation. 95% of sugar beets are GMO, as is corn.

(Fructose Facts: The sugar in “Natural” agave syrup is 70% fructose; honey 50%; and orange juice 30%.)

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the product of enzymatic processing of corn starch, which is composed of a necklace of glucose molecules. HFCS is actually a mixture of two simple sugars—fructose and glucose—in a 42:58 mix in processed foods, cereals, baked goods, and some beverages; in soft drinks, it’s a 55:45 mix.

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