Fructose is a natural type of sugar found in many fruits and vegetables. It is a simple sugar that chemically belongs to the group of monosaccharides and has a similar structure to glucose. Fructose is also known as fruit sugar and has a higher sweetness compared to glucose. In its pure form, fructose appears as a white, crystalline powder. It is often used as a sweetener in processed foods and beverages. In our fructose table, you can find vegan and plant-based foods that are high in fructose.
How much fructose per day?
There is no specific recommendation for the daily intake of fructose. However, scientists suggests that the proportion of added sugars, including dietary fructose, should not exceed 10% of the total daily energy intake (source). For an average adult with an energy requirement of 2,000 kcal per day, this corresponds to approximately 50 g of sugar or 200 kcal per day.
Be mindful not to consume excessive fructose from added sugar sources, as they are often present in processed foods such as candies, pastries, and beverages.
As you can see from the above fructose table, fruits are a natural source of fructose. Fruit varieties such as apples, bananas, berries, grapes, melons, mangos, pineapples, pears, peaches, plums, oranges, grapefruits, and kiwis have high fructose content. You can find the list of fruits high in fructose here. However, fruits are not only a source of fructose but also provide many other important nutrients. They contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that can contribute to promoting health.
Some dried fruits such as raisins, dates, figs, and apricots have a particularly high fructose content. Dried fruits typically contain more fructose per serving than fresh fruits because the drying process concentrates the sugar and nutrient content in the fruits.
According to the table, some vegetables also contain fructose, although in smaller amounts than fruits. Onions, tomatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, squash, and potatoes are fructose-rich vegetables. However, the amount of fructose varies depending on the type of vegetable and ripeness.
What are the effects of consuming excessive fructose?
As shown in our fructose chart, many fruits contain fructose, which can lead to excessive consumption. We have compiled the following list of the effects that fructose can have:
- Fructose can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, which in turn can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
- In some individuals, excessive fructose can cause bloating as it is not fully absorbed in the small intestine and is fermented in the large intestine. This can lead to the formation of gas.
- Chronically consuming too much fructose can overload the liver and contribute to the development of liver diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Excessive fructose intake can result in the accumulation of fat in the body. Fat can be deposited in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease.
- Fructose is also metabolized by bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to the production of acids that attack the teeth and cause cavities.
- Excessive consumption of fructose-rich foods can also have negative effects on the brain. It can impair cognitive function and lead to a poorer mood.
Glycemic Index of Fructose
Fructose has a lower glycemic index than other sugars such as glucose or sucrose. The glycemic index (GI) is a scale from 0 to 100 that indicates how quickly carbohydrate-rich foods raise blood sugar levels. A high GI value means that a food raises blood sugar levels quickly, while a low GI value means that it raises blood sugar levels more slowly.
The GI of fructose is approximately 20-25. Fructose only slightly increases blood sugar levels. Consequently, it does not significantly affect insulin levels compared to other sugars. This makes fructose a suitable option for people with diabetes or insulin resistance.
Reducing Fructose Consumption
In addition to our table of low-fructose foods, which are particularly important for people with fructose intolerance, here are some recommendations on how you can reduce fructose consumption in your diet:
- Try to reduce your consumption of added sugar by avoiding processed foods such as candies, pastries, and sugary drinks. You can access the list of sugary foods here.
- You can incorporate other fruits into your diet to reduce your fructose intake. However, since fruit is a valuable source of nutrients, it should not be eliminated from your diet. Use our list of fruits with low fructose for reference.
- Increase your intake of vegetables in your meals. For example, make vegetable side dishes with low overall fructose content your main course. This list of low-fructose vegetables can be helpful.
- Avoid fruit juices and opt for water or unsweetened tea instead. Fruit juice often contains high amounts of fructose, while lacking the fiber found in whole fruits. However, if you enjoy consuming fruit, you can make homemade smoothies or fruit juices from fresh ingredients without added sugars. You can find the list of fiber-rich foods here.
- Read food labels to check for sugar content. Avoid foods that contain high amounts of added sugar. Also, keep in mind that added sugar can appear under different names. Pay attention to syrup ingredients such as high-fructose agave syrup.
- It is advisable to reduce the consumption of artificial sweeteners as they can stimulate appetite. If you still want to use sweeteners, choose natural options like Stevia or Xylitol.