Carbohydrates are an essential part of the human diet, and sugars like fructose are a common source of carbohydrate. Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruits, vegetables, honey, agave nectar, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates. It is the sweetest of the naturally occurring sugars and has many unique properties.
Pure crystalline fructose was first, made available for food and beverage use 30 years ago, having been marketed previously primarily as a health supplement. Crystalline fructose products are typically almost 100% pure fructose. Pure crystalline fructose has had a negligible effect on the carbohydrate composition of the diet because of the small volume of this sugar produced relative to all other naturally occurring and added starches, syrups and sweeteners.
Because pure crystalline fructose is so much sweeter than sugar, less of it is used in products to achieve the same level of sweetness. Thus, pure crystalline fructose can be used in making lower-sugar and lowercalorie foods. Food scientists favor pure crystalline fructose because it possesses other properties beyond sweetness, which makes it very useful in foods and beverages.
Pure crystalline fructose is produced from corn or sugar and purified. The crystalline product is brilliant white and very high purity.
Primary applications for crystalline fructose include dry mix beverages, low calorie products, enhanced or flavored water, still and carbonated beverages, sports and energy drinks, chocolate milk, breakfast cereals, baked goods, yogurt, fruit packs and confections. Fructose is being used in new foods and beverages, such as shelf-stable nutrition bars, soft moist cookies, pourable frozen juice concentrates and energy-reduced products.
Some are even suggesting the application of fructose for those with special dietary or nutritional needs, like endurance athletes.
Fructose is the sweetest of all nutritive sweeteners. It has roughly 1.2 times the sweetness of sucrose in most food applications.
Its sweetness perception peaks and falls earlier than glucose and sucrose, “unmasking” fruit and spice flavors.
The interaction of fructose with other sweeteners and starches results in a synergy that boosts the sweetness, cake height (baked goods) and viscosity of foods and beverages.
Glycemic Index/Insulin Release
Glycemic index is often used to assess the compatibility of foods with inpiduals having special dietary needs such as diabetics. Fructose has a low glycemic index and results in moderate release of insulin to the bloodstream relative to glucose and sucrose.
The only proven health risk of nutritive sweeteners at typical consumption levels is dental caries (also known as tooth decay). However, when compared to other nutritive sugars, fructose is among the least cariogenic.
Meeting Consumer Demand
Calorie Control Council consumer research shows that more than 187 million adult Americans are
incorporating low calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages into their meal plan as part of a healthy lifestyle. People will continue to demand a greater variety of low calorie products as they strive to make healthier food choices. Fructose can help meet this demand because of its unique sweetness and functionality.
Fructose is being used in new foods and beverages, such as shelf-stable nutrition bars, soft moist cookies, pourable frozen juice concentrates and energy-reduced products. Some are even suggesting the application of fructose for those with special dietary or nutritional needs, like endurance athletes.
Sucrose and HFCS have long been considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). As a significant component of these two sweeteners, the safety of fructose has been thoroughly documented in several scientific reviews performed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other expert panels.
The FDA concluded, “High fructose corn syrup is as safe for use in food as sucrose, corn syrup and invert sugar.” An International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Expert Panel concluded, “Fructose is a valuable, traditional source of food energy, and there is no basis for recommending increases or decreases in its use in the general food supply or in special dietary use products.”
Contrary to contemporary reports, the introduction of HFCS (isoglucose) in the latter quarter of the 20th century did very little to change the ratio of simple sugars to starch, or the ratio of glucose to fructose. Why? Because HFCS and sucrose have nearly the same composition and HFCS simply replaced sucrose in many applications on a one-for-one basis.
A Joint Consultation of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization found that consumption of sugars is not a causative factor in any disease, including obesity.
Fructose Does Not Lead to Health Concerns
Fructose is not responsible for the obesity epidemic or any other health issues the U.S. is facing. Obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions are multi-faceted, brought on by many different factors, not just one. Allegations that fructose causes increased fat production or increased appetite and weight gain are based on poorly crafted experiments which often test extremely high levels of fructose, much higher than the levels found in a typical human diet. These studies are also generally carried out in animals that are poor models for human metabolism. Consequently, the findings from these studies are extreme, and not applicable to real-life situations.
Fructose and HFCS are not the same. Fructose is sweeter than sucrose so less is needed to achieve the same sweetness, offering calorie savings. Fructose has a low glycemic index and does not cause surges and dips in blood glucose levels. Pure crystalline fructose offers many functional benefits when added to a wide range of foods and beverages, improving product palatability and stability.