Health Benefits of Fructose?

You probably know how excited we get about food labeling, and how difficult it is to work out what’s actually a healthy snack because what it says on the label doesn’t always add up with what’s in the packet.  So we, like so many others, were appalled to hear that the EU has ruled that food companies can make claims of health benefits if they replace at least 30% of the sugar (glucose and sucrose) in a product with fructose.

Why are we appalled – fructose is a healthy sugar right?  Well not really.  There is an increasing body of evidence that even though fructose may have a lower Glycaemic Index than glucose and sucrose (which means it causes a less aggressive spike in blood sugar and thus insulin than common white sugar) it can still cause major health problems.  It’s metabolized, or broken down, differently than common sugar and this can cause fatty build up in your liver. 

The challenge that European Food Safety Authority (who advised the EU on this decision), and other organisations like it face, is that what is factually true about an ingredient (fructose does have lower GI than glucose) does not necessarily add up with sensible public health advice.  It’s a bit like foods promoted as ‘low fat’ are deemed healthy even though fats are an essential part of your diet, and a low fat food may be packed with sugar and other unsavoury ingredients.

So we come back to the same answer we always do. The only way to really know what you’re eating is to take responsibility for preparing your meals.  And if you do need to buy some prepared products, like healthy snacks to keep you going through the day, you need to read labels carefully, or buy from someone like the Nutribox who reads the labels for you.

The inevitable next question is ‘does this mean I shouldn’t eat fruit because it contains fructose?’  The answer is definitely no – don’t stop eating fruit because it’s a valuable source of vitamins and other nutrients!  The fructose in fruit comes neatly packaged with dietary fibre that helps to modulate its absorption (which helps reduce the risk of excess being stored as fat in the liver) – nature’s looking out for us!  Many of the healthy snacks delivered in a Nutribox contain fructose – but it is usually within the dried fruit ingredients and that means it comes with that dietary fibre packaging.

If you want to buy gluten free snacks that don’t need EU legislation to say they’re healthy then try out  a Nutribox! 

  • Ann White
  • 22 Oct 2013

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