Goodbye fructose

As we get deeper into recipes that require some form of sweetener, I see too many people fall into the fructose trap.

Fructose is the stuff that makes sucrose bad. (Sucrose = glucose + fructose.) Dietary glucose is not entirely benign, but fructose is far worse. After wheat, fructose is proving to be a far worse dietary ingredient than previously thought.

Where do you find fructose? Fructose can be found in (roughly in order from worst to least):

Agave
High-fructose corn syrup
Sucrose
Honey
Maple syrup
Fruit

I’ve been discussing fructose for a number of years on my Heart Scan Blog. Here’s a post I made from July, 2009 that discusses some of the clinical data that demonstrate the awful effects of fructose:

A carefully-conducted study by a collaborative research group at University of California-Berkeley has finally closed the lid on the fuss over fructose vs. glucose and its purported adverse effects.

The study is published in its entirety here.

Compared to glucose, fructose induced:

1) Four-fold greater intra-abdominal fat accumulation–3% increased intra-abdominal fat with glucose; 14.4% with fructose. (Intraabdominal fat is the variety that blocks insulin responses and causes diabetes and inflammation.)

2) 13.9% increase in LDL cholesterol but double the increase for Apoprotein B (an index of the number of LDL particles, similar to NMR LDL particle number).

3) 44.9% increase in small LDL, compared to 13.3% with glucose.

4) While glucose (curiously) reduced the net postprandial (after-eating) triglyceride response (area under the curve, AUC), fructose increased postprandial triglycerides 99.2%.

The authors propose that fructose specifically increases liver VLDL production, the lipoprotein particle that yields abnormal after-eating particles, increased LDL, and provides building blocks to manufacture small LDL particles. The authors also persuasively propose that fructose metabolism, unlike glucose, is not inhibited (via feedback loop) by energy intake, i.e., it’s as if you are always starving.

Add to this the data that show that fructose increases uric acid (that causes gout and may act as a coronary risk factor), induces leptin resistance, causes metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), and increases appetite, and it is clear that fructose is yet another common food additive that, along with wheat, is likely a big part of the reason Americans are fat and diabetic.

Fructose is concentrated, of course, in high-fructose corn syrup, comprising anywhere from 42-90% of total weight. Fructose also composes 50% of sucrose (table sugar). Fructose also figures prominently in many fruits; among the worst culprits are raisins (30% fructose) and honey (41% fructose).

Also, beware of low-fat or non-fat salad dressings (rich with high-fructose corn syrup), ketchup, beer, fruit drinks, fruit juices, all of which are rich sources of this exceptionally fattening, metabolism-bypassing, LDL cholesterol/small LDL/ApoB increasing compound. Ironically, this means that many low-fat foods meant to reduce cholesterol actually increase it when they contain fructose in any form.

When you hear or say “fructose,” run the other way, regardless of what the Corn Refiners Association says.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Boundless

    > … (roughly in order from worst to least):
    > Agave
    Darn shame, that. We had only recently discovered agave nectar, and flavor-wise it’s the perfect sweetener for margaritas.
    Good thing none of the other ingredients in that beverage have sugars or fast carbs :)
    I expect I’ll give up margs. I’m satisfied with a small glass of red wine.

    • You’d think that our mixed drinks would be off limits to wheat- and fructose-adding interests. Just take a look at the Blood Mary mixes: Yup, high-fructose corn syrup right at the top of the ingredients.

      Real ingredients, not mixes, are the key. Use real lemon and lime juices, for instances, not mixes. Use real fruit or have your drinks as simple as possible.

      Red wine is fine. (Is that a haiku?)

  2. greensleeves

    This August one of my FB friends was told for the first time she was pre-diabetic. Her doctor told her to switch to Splenda. She replied she didn’t like artificial sweeteners, so he told her to try “natural” agave nectar. Then in October, both were surprised by her continued weight gain and poor test results. Call it “nectar” or whatever you want, it’s as bad for you as HFCS. Avoid it. :)

  3. DavidS

    Dr. Davis, I notice that in the Paleo diet, they use maple syrup as a sweetner almost exclusively. What is your take on that would you just recommend substituing Truvia or some other form of similar sweetner instead?

    • damaged justice

      “Orthodox paleo” uses no added sweeteners of any kind. Best thing to do is go cold turkey so you lose the taste for the sweet.

      • Boundless

        dj: “Orthodox paleo” uses no added sweeteners of any kind.

        The NWB (Non-Wheat-Belly) diet is PIP (Politically Incorrect Paleo). It allows some dairy, some tropicals, some artificial sweetners, and carefully selected modern supplements.

        dj: Best thing to do is go cold turkey so you lose the taste for the sweet.

        I suspect it’s more about stabilizing the blood sugar, so the brain, during glucose lows, isn’t screaming “hey, I’m starving up here”.

        I’m also not convinced that artificial sweeteners are fooling ONLY the tongue.

    • HI, David–

      There may not be an absolutely perfect sweetener (although I believe that both stevia and erythritol come darn close), but the consequences of fructose consumption are too great. Maple syrup contains a substantial proportion of fructose, even if it is pure maple syrup, so I believe it should not be consumed in anything but minimal quantities.

  4. This is a huge thing for me just recently, since seeing Sugar – the Bitter Truth.

    I take a supplement from Youngevity that recently changed their sweetener to ‘Citrisweet’. It’s a blend (cleverly hidden behind this nice catchy new name) containing fructose. The company claims it is perfectly safe – points to fruit containing fructose (we all know that fruit also contains the antidote of the hepatoxin fructose – fiber, plus minerals that counteract it) and they repeat the standard line that fructose is ‘GRAS” – generally recognized as safe.

    Has anyone heard of Citrisweet? Any information – opinons on taking it every day?

    This is in their collodial mineral vitamin/mineral supplement – ‘Ultimate Classic’.

    • HI, Linda–

      I couldn’t find any data describing the quantity or proportion of fructose. This seems to be one among several sweeteners like this, most of which share fructose content. I’m surprised that manufacturers are coming out with fructose-containing sweeteners, as there is a growing backlash against it.

      Until we can find out how much fructose is in it, I think I’d avoid it.

      • Boundless

        re: I’m surprised that manufacturers are coming out with fructose-containing sweeteners, as there is a growing backlash against it.

        My guess is that it’s a knee-jerk reaction to the previous backlash against corn syrup. They hope that market resistance is to “corn” and not the “high fructose” part.

        They don’t know what’s driving the market shift, could care less about the health impacts, and know they can’t go back to cane sugar. So they blindly snatch the next sweetener in the storeroom.

        • Yes, I agree, Boundless. It’s about the next niche to exploit for profit, regardless of health benefits or health damages, even if the opportunity is short-lived.

          If the dietitians and food scientists would stop and think about what they were doing before bringing a product to market, they could save consumers a lot of heartache.

          • Boundless

            Dr.D: If the dietitians and food scientists would stop and think about what they were doing before bringing a product to market, they could save consumers a lot of heartache.

            The techies probably do think about it, but they get overruled by Marketing, who are much more attentive to the priorities of the Board of Directors.

            Perhaps the single biggest problem with packaged processed foods is Focus Groups (I’ve been in a couple, although not food). Marketing gets a bunch of random civilians in a conference room, and has them try and react to stuff.

            Focus groups tend to drive products toward rapid initial appeal, and not even sustained customer loyalty, much less rational long-term benefit to the consumer.

            In the specific case of food, if the group is asked to compare A & B, and B has more sugar and/or salt, guess which usually wins. Or if B has more wheat-powered button pushing, guess which wins.

            Betcha can’t eat [ just ] one.

  5. I agree with the comments about replacing sweeteners. 20 years ago I kicked ALL sweeteners and lost 60 pounds in a thrice. But, well, I just ate more wheat, you know, and it all came back. We also used pure maple syrup if we had to use a sweetener, but mostly we went without.

    Read “Sugar Blues,” by William Dufty. Great info about Sugar.

    We don’t eat anything now that needs sweetening. We don’t eat the product categories (think all wheat products we magically re-created using non-wheat ingredients) like we did when we kicked wheat, so it doesn’t matter. We are almost exclusively zero to 40 grams total carbs per day, and our total intake of food has plummeted to about 1/4 of what it was BWB: “Before Wheat Belly”

    By the way, you can find “Dimensions,” my latest release, at the link. Think of it as wheat-free spiritual activation. It was composed with a wheat-free mind and Spirit, and a video is in the works. Enjoy.

  6. Raphael

    So no to coconut water? I normally drink about 1.5 to 2 cups of coconut water after lifting. Is there a better way to restore lost glycogen stores? Sweet potatoes or yams, I know, but I’m looking for something that isn’t prepared.

  7. Joan F

    Dr. Davis, what is your opinion on artificial sweeteners? I haven’t seen any proof that Splenda is harmful, just suspicions that people have. I think Aspartame is problematic for some as are some of the sugar alcohols, particularly maltitol. My favorite is erythritol, I understand it is a plant fiber. I have been eating the new Quest energy bars, they use Isomalto-Oligosaccharide along with a small amount of sucralose (Splenda)

  8. Shannon

    Dr. D, this is the one thing that confuses me about your site. You post a ton of dessert recipes. I used the Whole 30 plan to kill my sugar cravings, and it seems like you’re almost undermining folks by suggesting they can eat biscotti and cupcakes. Even modified, those treats still scratch the sugar itch, reminding folks what they’re missing. After years of trying moderation and then paleo-fied treats, I am so much better off without sugar/sweeteners. I won’t lie, it’s insanely hard at first, but folks will be so much better off if they just dump that stuff for all but the most special occasions. I see paleo folks I know cooking up muffins and cookies to feed that sweet tooth, and it seems like that approach prevents them from overcoming that craving for sugar and pastries.

  9. Robin G

    And this doesn’t even cover acetaldehyde production, fructose intolerance, fructose malabsorption or cancer.

    Fructose in anything greater than tiny concentrations is evil. But so are its substitutes.

  10. Amine Berrada

    I love you man. Just sent a message on the success story with pictures from my recent trip to South Morocco. The belly is going away…:)

  11. Mike

    One of the knocks against most artificial sweeteners is that they fool the body into thinking they are sugar and cause the same reactions as sugar. I’ve been using Stevia and I wonder if this same criticism can be appled to Stevia.

  12. Chris

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    Been following your blog and finished your book a few weeks ago. I was already reading a log of low-carb and paleo stuff (books and blogs), as well as various things debunking the whole lipid hypothesis. Your book adds another piece to the puzzle. I have a minor bone to pick, however. As a homebrewer I have to take issue with two assertions – one, that beer contains wheat, and two, that it contains fructose. Now, I’m not suggesting that beer is health food, and certainly the carbs and alcohol will present problems for many people, especially if consumed in excess.
    It is true that *some* beers contain wheat – notably, those that are referred to as ‘wheat’ beers (heffe weizen, Belgian Wit beers, weiss beers, etc.; mainly look out for any word referring to ‘wheat’ or ‘white’ in German, English, French, or Belgian), typically no more than 40% of the malt bill, but most do not (for some reason, Bud has rice; not sure why). And, some beers probably do contain fructose, due to an addition of fruit in some form, perhaps in combination with corn syrup or simple syrup. Belgians and Brits sometimes like to add different kinds of sugar – candi sugar, brown sugar, molasses, treacle, etc. in some amount to enhance taste or alcohol content.
    Most, if not all, of the sugar in beer comes from maltose (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltose), which is composed to two units of glucose. The yeast added to a wort (unfermented beer) typically ‘consumes’ about 75% of the fermentable sugars, sometimes more if it is a strain with a nice high rate of attenuation. Added sugars (from non-malt sources) will ferment out pretty much all the way.
    In moderation, most ales and lagers will expose you to *neither* wheat nor fructose – avoid ‘wheat’ beers, fruit beers, and maybe ‘Holiday Ales’ (many contain honey and wheat), and you will be generally be safe (again, in moderation).

    • Uncle Roscoe

      My take on gluten is slightly different from Dr Davis. As Dr. Davis says wheat gluten is evil because, among other things, it contains an extremely high concentration of dangerous proteins. These proteins include complex sticky lectins and opioid glycoproteins. These proteins cause havoc by sticking to body parts they should not stick to. As Dr Davis says the modern western dwarf hybrid variety of wheat gluten contains many times more of these proteins than older forms of wheat. However, older forms of wheat contain many of these same dangerous proteins. So do the cousins of wheat ….barley, rye and oats. And regardless of other brewing techniques, brewers make beer with barley.

      I can testify. I have celiac disease along with a cluster of other gluten-related autoimmune diseases. I react strongly to wheat. I also react strongly to other grains, including the barley in beer.

      The hallmark of autoimmune and metabolic disease is a leaky gut, the failure of “tight junctions” between the cells lining the small intestine. Leaky gut is an innate autoimmune reaction to specific proteins, including the proteins in wheat, barley, rye and oats. There are other strong contributing factors. They all hinge on the leaky gut reaction. This reaction is the achilles heel of these diseases, because they can be treated simply by abstaining from ingesting these proteins.

  13. Lizelle

    (Sorry, I posted this under the latest post, and then thought this is probably the better place for it)

    Do you have an opinion about coconut sugar?
    I find that I cannot stand the taste of artificial sugars, no matter which one I try. I do find that I quite like the taste of dates in stuff and can use much less dates that the equivalent sugar would have been (like using 4 chopped dates in a muffin recipe and then losing the sugar altogether).
    Is there some mitigating health benefit to using something sweet that has other nutritional stuff in it (like coconut sugar or whole dates)?
    I find with me that I start out using an artificial sugar, and try to stick with it, but in the end just progressively start adding sugar in to whatever I am using the artificial sweetener for, and end up ditching the artificial stuff.

  14. joe

    HELLO DR. DAVIS, I HAVE QUESTIONS.
    DON’T OUR CELLS NEED SOME KIND OF SUGAR FOR ENERGY ?? I WAS TOLD THE SUGAR FROM FRUIT WAS THE BEST . (DR. ROBERT MORSE) FOR THOSE WHO HAVE TROUBLE METABOLIZING SUGAR.

    ALSO IF WE CAN’T EAT MILLET , BUCKWHEAT , OATS ETC.(NON GLUTEN ) OR APPLES, ORANGES , BANANAS BECAUSE OF FRUCTOSE WHAT CAN WE EAT TO LIVE ??

    • Uncle Roscoe

      Please ask Dr. Morse to explain the difference between the fructose in fruit and the fructose in table sugar.

      Hint: There is none.

      There is extreeeeeemly little fructose in millet, buckwheat and oats compared to foods commonly associated with fructose. The difference can be tasted. Fructose tastes sweet.

      No, our cells do not need sugar ……None …….Period. Meat and fat provide the same nutritive value without the drawbacks.

      I’ve been through this argument before. Now you’re going to say I just advocated abstaining from all sugars. Wrong. I did not. I stated a fact.

      Most people have very little problem with starch (amylose) in moderation. The digestive system breaks it into glucose and absorbs it in a time release way. Subsequently cells absorb and metabolize glucose in a time dependent way. The process invokes mechanisms which control appetite and prevent damage.

      Fructose digestion and metabolism invoke none of these protective mechanisms. The problems with many starchy foods are the proteins, non-amylose sugars, and sugar/protein hybrid molecules associated with them.

      Nobody said “we can’t eat” anything. You are free to eat food that helps you, or food that harms you. Your choice.

  15. joe

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR RESPONSES TO MY QUESTIONS.

    TO Uncle Roscoe : I’VE BEEN EATING ORGANIC BUCKWHEAT FOR ABOUT FOUR MONTHS AND I AM AWARE OF THE LOW FRUCTOSE LEVEL IN COMPARISON TO SWEET FRUIT. WHAT IS INTERESTING TO ME IS YOU SAY OUR CELLS NEED NO SUGAR ,ONLY MEAT AND FAT. WELL I DO EAT CHICKEN AND HAVE NOTHING AGAINST FAT , SOAKED SEEDS ;FREE RANGE EGGS;COCONUT OIL ETC. MY QUESTION IS WHAT ABOUT WHEN HAVING TROUBLE DIGESTING FATS, CARBS??

    I HAVE SEVERE CANDIDA OVERGROWTH, HYPOGLYCEMIA AND A NUMBER OF SYMPTOMS FROM GUT ISSUES. SO IF I’M NOT DIGESTING MEATS , GRAINS WELL ITS FERMENTING BUT FRUIT DOES NOT NEED WHAT COMPLEX SUGARS NEED TO GET IN CELL WALL.I’M TRYING TO DETOX BECAUSE BACKED UP.

    LAST THING, THERE IS MUCH ARGUMENT AS TO WHETHER OR NOT DEAD TISSUE / FLESH IS OKAY FOR US TO CONSUME. I LOVE CHICKEN AND THAT’S MY CHALLENGE BUT BUT TRYING TO DO FRUITS AND VEGGIES MOSTLY. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO CONSUME BESIDES THAT.

  16. joe

    BY THE WAY DR. MORSE HAS SEEN OVER 200,000 CLIENTS AND HAS HELP HEAL THOUSANDS OF CASES WITH MAJOR DISEASE. HE HAS BEEN IN IT FOR 40 YEARS SO I DON’T WANT TO DISMISS SOMETHING THAT HAS WORKED FOR SO MANY. I’M JUST TRYING TO LEARN AND BECOME FUNCTIONAL AGAIN. I APPRECIATE ALL GOOD ADVICE:-)
    SO ARE GRAINS SUCH AS BUCKWHEAT ETC A GO OR A NO?

    • Uncle Roscoe

      You invoked Dr. Morse to make a point, that fruit fructose is healthier than the fructose in sucrose. I answered in kind. It is not. Fructose carries the same damage regardless of its source. I’m sure Dr. Morse is a fine doctor.

      Any researcher deserves a thorough examination of his methods and results before his conclusions should be evaluated, one way or the other. Lots of practitioners control multiple variables, lifestyle, diet, medicine, exercise, etc to attain results. Within this context these variables can be evaluated in total, but cannot be evaluated separately.

      Celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease with a proven cause. Gluten ingestion. As such, gluten pathways have been extensively studied. These pathways link gluten ingestion, via intestinal porosity, to virtually all autoimmune and metabolic disease.

      Gluten is a complex protein contained in wheat and other grassy grains. These grains fall under the broad classification “complex carbs”. Pathways invoked by proteins in other complex carbs, such as legumes and nightshades, are being studied. The studies expose many of the same key disease traits in these proteins.

      Wheat substitutes are less well studied. Personal experimentation has led me to a rule of thumb. It takes complex proteins to form breads and cakes. Any carb capable of making breads and cakes gives me trouble. These include xanthan, guar and buckwheat. I have no trouble with rice, white corn and sorghum. I react to legumes and nightshades.

      It’s been experimentally proven that candida overgrowth can be a vital link in the gluten-porosity-disease pathway. Major peer review journal…..

      http://www.denvernaturopathic.com/news/celiac.html

      In the small intestine, candida thrives on fructose …..from all sources. Stop ingesting fructose.

      In addition, experimentation has exposed gluten opioid proteins, including A5 and B5.

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/002432059500324Y

      These proteins can mimic endorphin and cause the pancreas to release insulin. Among other effects, insulin causes cells to absorb blood glucose. Excess insulin can cause reactive hypoglycemia, an extreme drop in blood glucose. Low blood glucose is not a problem in people who eat nothing but meat and fat. They are termed “fat adapted”. Extreme swings in blood glucose concentration can be life threatening.

      Why you would limit yourself to a nutrient poor meat like chicken is a real head scratcher.

  17. Tony Phylactou

    I had my first gout attack about 10 years ago.
    At the beginning I was having attacks every 6 months. Then gradually I was getting them
    every 3 months, then every month and eventually every week.
    It started at my big toe and then it was moving sometimes in my knees,and generally all
    around my joints, in my feet.And the pain was agonising.
    I have tried all the cures you can imagine.I tried ACV, lemons, drinking a lot of water, but
    to no avail.I tried water fasting, juice fasting,baking soda, again without success.
    I almost gave up meat, limiting it to only once a week ,gave up alcohol completely,again
    no success.
    I was living on vegetables, lots and lots of fresh fruit, milk ,cheese beans and so on .My
    eating habits could not be healthier ,or so I thought.But my gout was worsening.
    Then I decided to increase the amount of fruit I was consuming, thinking that if some fruit
    is healthy, more fruit will be more healthy.Some days I was eating fruit only ,others over 10
    portions a day.
    And alas my gout instead of improving it became chronic ,it was there all the time.
    I was desperate I did not know what to do.
    And then one day accidentally I read an article about fructose,which is contained in fruit in
    large quantities.It said that it increases uric acid, in a matter of minutes.
    Fructose is also present in table sugar, and in HFCS, which is used in soft drinks.
    I put two and two together and realised what I was doing wrong.
    I stopped eating fruit and all other sugars, for a period of 3 weeks,and by magic I saw a
    dramatic improvement.Pain was gone, swelling was gone, I was fine.
    I re introduced fruit again in my diet but reducing them to 1 or 2 a day, and my gout completely
    disappeared.
    I do eat more meat now, and occasionally have an alcoholic drink, and thank God everything
    seems to be fine.
    Fructose was my enemy.

  18. Gus

    Doc, is there anything wrong with drinking beer? I am not a heavy drinker but I do enjoy a beer and some whisky (fireball brand) every now and then. Any wheat in beer? I like the lite varities- budlite, corona lite, redstripe lite…

      • Abe

        Curious about the beer issue as well. I quite enjoy a glass or two out with the boys or after a tough day of work. If I stick with the barley based beers, are they still a huge issue in moderation because of the gluten? To keep low in carbs I understand you should limit consumption (a light beer has 6-10g), and my beer of choice has no wheat but does have gluten as a result of the barley. Enjoying a glass with my dinner on a saturday night I’m still easily able to keep my carb intake under 40 for the day. Just wondering if there are other concerns.

  19. Janett N. Royce

    Hmm… If I consume ANYTHING but watery fruits like watermelons, grapes, oranges, apples etc. my blood sugar sky rockets. I’m a brittle type 1 diabetic (this thing my doctor calls an “auto-immune disease” when he doesn’t know what causes it) and I’ve been on a high fruit diet to control blood sugars. If I add ANY vegetables my blood sugars go up. Same with complex carbs, starches, rye, grains, wheat, grass fed meat, milk, nuts, other high fats etc. Some fruits like bananas, pineapples and durians will also drive my blood sugar up. But according to you I’m killing myself slowly? I don’t think so.

    In the meanwhile I’m working on my adrenal glands and pancreas. In the beginning I fought through a “glucose loading” phase (blood sugars going up and down) for 6 days when I switched to 100 % fruits. The last 3 of those 6 days I “fasted” on watermelons until my blood sugars slowly stabilized. From the 8th day I didn’t have any further insulin injection needs. I’m 17 days down the road now and seeing great improvements. Had one salad yesterday just to see what would happen and my blood glucose didn’t go too high (76 to 139). What surprised me is that it very slowly went down again. This advice came from my uncle who’s an avid viewer of Dr. Robert Morse’s videos. So I can only say that listening to your advice might bring back the insulin needle. I respect your work nonetheless.
    – Janett

  20. Jagmeet Singh

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    I am on wheat free diet for last week. I am feeling much more active and I have lost 4 pounds in a week. But I have a concern regarding replacing my carbohydrate diet with proteins. I am suffering from high uric acid in blood. We have a family history of high uric acid and gout. Is removing wheat with protein diet is safe for me? Please reply.

    • This is a tough issue, but not directly relevant to wheat elimination. You may need to have your uric acid levels tracked.

      Note that fructose sources are a big influence on uric acid, in addition to purine sources.

  21. Boundless

    > Fructose can be found in (roughly in order from worst to least):
    > * Agave
    > * High-fructose corn syrup

    And if you needed another reason to avoid HFCS, it’s now been linked to CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder), due to imidacloprid uptake by the corn. See:
    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2012-releases/colony-collapse-disorder-pesticide.html?
    http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0405-hance_colonycollapse_pesticides.html

    So, yes, trace amounts of imidacloprid are in both the corn you eat and any HFCS you eat. If you can’t find your way back to your hive, this might be why. This pesticide amount is probably a minor threat compared to the fructose itself, and other concerns about genetic mods to the mutant product now sold as corn (BT, RR-Ready), not to mention uptake of RoundUp and other herbicides and pesticides.

    • MaryMK

      Hello, Dr. Davis, Boundless, & all other readers/writers,
      I’m asking for help–again! Can anyone tell me or refer me to a source that can tell me if there is a difference between fructose and CRYSTALLINE fructose? I’ve done a Goggle search, read the abstract referenced in Dr. Davis’ original ‘Good-bye Fructose” post, and listened to Dr. Robert Lustig in the You Tube video “Sugar, the Bitter Truth.” Dr. Lustig says at one point that HFCS is the same as fructose, doesn’t matter what you call it, etc. However, I also read that the crystalline form apparently is lower on the glycemic scale (22, I think, vs. 73 for HFCS). That may be true but I suspect that it is metabolized the same, i.e., dangerous, way.

      I personally have zero desire to consume fructose in any form other than an occasional apple or orange or berries. However, my husband is on a program designed around a shake product that contains fructose in the ingredient list (second ingredient, no less!). I stopped using it immediately but hubby is still in the thrall of this particular practitioner who now tells him that the fructose in the shake is OK because it is in the crystalline form. I’m having an uphill fight on the home front because I’m on the Wheat Belly journey but have been losing weight by ounces and girth by centimers so I’m not living proof that the other path is wrong. I love my very intelligent husband but I seem to be powerless against his diet guru and want to help save him from going down a sweet but slippery down hill tumble.

      I am grateful for any insight from Dr. Davis or readers/bloggers. I bow to you all for your insight and inspiration.
      Mary
      (sidebar: Hubby was also informed that the product is being reformulated to use stevia instead of the fructose listed because “too many people don’t understand the difference between fructose and crystalline fructose.” Oh, I am so sure that’s why the change. And I have a bridge in brooklyn for sale.

      • Dr. Davis

        I’m of the mind that fructose is fructose, whether crystallized, boxed, or packaged with a ribbon.

        It is metabolized via a unique route, unlike glucose and regardless of glycemic index being high or low, that lead to dramatic metabolic distortions.

      • Steven

        Crystal fructose is the latest weapon against good health and common sense
        that has been created by the chemists of the food processing industry. High glucose corn syrup is about 55% fructose; crystal is about 99%!
        According to Dr. Mercola, “Crystalline fructose (a super-potent form of fructose the food and beverage industry is now using) may contain arsenic, lead, chloride and heavy metals. ”
        Those good folks at Pepsi just keep coming out with more and more great ideas!

  22. Pam

    So, if we can’t sweeten with Agave, High-fructose corn syrup, Sucrose, Honey, Maple syrup or Fruit what can we use?

  23. Chastity

    I’ve started trying to drink more water but still not all the time because it makes me sick if I drink too much. I do drink Sprite Zero (contains aspartame) and I’m completely off Caffeine so I make my decaf green tea or regular tea with either regular sugar or at time Sucralose (is this a good sweetener) or should I be using something else?

  24. Paola Fusato

    I noticed you use Stevia as a sweetener for your recipes, but I find it very sweet with a bitter after taste. Is there any other sweetener we can use?

    • Steven

      I have been happy with Xylitol in my morning coffee, rather than Stevia, which I, too, find bitter.
      Steven

  25. MaryMK

    I have used PureVia instead of Truvia because I found it at Costco and it was considerably cheaper. However, despite the similarities in the names, PureVia contains maltulose (sp?). Is this a safe sweetener? Truvia is shockingly expensive, at least where I shop, unless I buy it at Costa in the 500 pkt size and that’s a lot of ripping open little bitty bags if I want to bake some of the Wheat Belly recipes. Thanks for any help.

    Mary

  26. Jeanne

    I recently discovered Now foods Stevia glycerite. It says Better Stevia alcohol free on the label and is thick like honey.
    I have numerous brands and styles of stevia products in my pantry and haven’t found ANY of them without the aftertaste- except THIS ONE. Others may disagree, but I was very pleased to read about it on Maria Emmerich’s blog and just had to try one more product .

    Thanks again Maria! And thanks Dr. D for leading me to her awesome site and recipes.

  27. Debbie

    I am currently drinking a shake that has “Non-Gmo Fructose & Stevia” listed as the sweetners. This is what they say about the fructose:

    “We use non GMO fructose from beets (amount on label). It’s not controversial at all. It’s a low glycemic index fruit sugar that works in the formulation as a transport vehicle for the nutrients and for taste”

    Would you recommend this as a sweetner???? Or is it best to avoid???

    • Dr. Davis

      To say that “fructose is not controversial” is silly. It is the WORST sweetener of all.

      I generally don’t like developing cataracts, arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes with my shake. I’d say lose it, Debbie!

      • Michael Leuthold

        I recommend Xylitol, Google it first & read comments/evaluations before using it.
        BUT: NEVER ALLOW YOUR DOG(S) TO CONSUME ANY FOOD THAT CONTAINS XYLITOL!!!

      • Michael Leuthold

        No, Dr. Davis-and this is the ONLY serious disagreement I have with you:

        SPLENDA & ASPARTAME and all their fancy-name relatives are by far the worst sweeteners EVER!

        I simply cannot understand how you could recommend it in the recipes listed in

        ‘Wheat Belly’ ! Consult Dr. Mercola and see/read for yourself what he thinks about these inventions from hell!

        Sincerely,

        Michael Leuthold (in Spokane,WA)

  28. Tania

    Thanks for this. It has led me to an excellent article by Dr. Joseph Mercola about the fructose in agave nectar. Mercola’s article is titled “This Sweetener Is Far Worse Than High Fructose Corn Syrup.” Yikes. When I first started a wheat elimination diet last week, I got excited about almond flour (which is basically made of finely ground blanched almonds). I went out and bought “The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook” by Elana Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the sweetener used throughout is agave nectar, and the oil used throughout is grapeseed oil. Both of these ingredients raise red flags now that I have read your book and this blog. My husband got a bad headache two days in a row within hours of eating an almond flour – agave nectar biscuit with 71% Dove Silky Smooth Dark chocolate chunks. We thought it must have been the milk solids in the chocolate (he’s eliminating both wheat and milk in order to see what stops his headaches), but it was probably more likely the agave. However, I also learned today about the good and bad types of dark chocolate in a blog post “Healthy Dark Chocolate Brands Revealed” by Nicole German. I have so much more to learn… not just about the harmful properties of today’s wheat.

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, Tania–

      Healthy eating shouldn’t be so tough. Unfortunately, it is!

      But being empowered in diet means being empowered in health. It is becoming absolutely essential to be armed with understanding.

  29. WILL Barber

    I am using Xylitol sweetner and love it.
    I have tested it on my blood sugar meter and it does no raise sugars at all and no after taste.

  30. Give Coconut Palm Sugar a try. It is the nectar of the coconut flower before the fruit is formed. Its now in all the health food stores and Whole Foods. Delicious.

    • Boundless

      CPS still has a claimed GI of 35, vs. 100 for glucose. I suspect that’s too high for a low carb diet, and is definitely off the list for a ketogenic diet.

      • James

        Hi boundless

        Shouldn’t you also look at the glycemic load or even bood sugar levels one hour after ingestion ? I’d not be surprised if one found a wide variance among a good sample of people. That’s what makes it tricky …
        In my experience, which is quite recent, after 1.5 month very low carb / high fat and maybe 3-4 weeks ketogenic for accelerated body fat loss, I find myself at a good weight and feel great. So I am reintroducing low glycemic fruits and very fat dairy (I don’t drink milk nor indulge in bad quality cheese any longer though) which adds a bit of carbs in my current diet because I want to stabilize my weight and add variety to our meals. I have not counted really but I suspect my carb load is very small still (~ 30 – 50g maximum on week-end days where I “indulge” a litlle). Since I also practice intermittent fasting and move my butt every day, I am quite happy with this balance. It could well be that spring and summer time will influence my diet some more (more raw veggie stuff) but winter time is quite OK with plenty of fat and a bit of good meat on a regular basis.

        • Boundless

          > Shouldn’t you also look at the glycemic load or even blood sugar levels one hour after ingestion ?

          Well, sure. That’s the bottom line (along with considerations of side effects from proposed alternative sweeteners). And folks suggesting new sweeties never seem to provide this data.

          But the claimed GI gives is a clue. Dr.Davis has said that a GI of zero is the target. This stuff is well above zero.

          We also don’t know exactly what saccharide it is. As we see in the base article of this thread, just because something is “natural”, “organic” and not glucose does not make it an ideal comestible.

  31. catrina

    Hello.
    I am new to this way of eating, this is my first week. Could you please tell me if I can drink Diet Coke, I usually like 1 can a day and also if I can use Kraft salad dressings.

    Thank you.

    • Boundless

      > … Diet Coke …
      What sweetener is used?
      The acid load, from carbonation, isn’t necessary.
      The flavorings might be OK.
      The water is usually fine, but is much cheaper when just purchased as water.

      > Kraft salad dressings
      Watch out for sugars, unhealthy oils and maybe even wheat.
      This may rule out most of them.

  32. Katie

    I have been using Ideal brand and it is Xylitol, Maltodextrin and Sucralose. It sweetens and does not seem to have an aftertaste. I do like this product for baking and cooking many recipes. I also purchased Now Better Stevia a month ago and didn’t think it was sweetening very well. Well, read the labels! I discovered that it says to Shake well before using. So much better results. It sure is easy to add a few drops to recipes (and my morning hot chocolate). It is very easy to eat wheat and not realize it until later…wheat is in so many things! I recently read that it is in Tylenol and would like to know if this is true. Thank you for all the good advice that the Dr. has given us, and the blog too.

  33. Steve

    For all those struggling with which sweetener is better: Avoid them all – you don’t need them! After a couple of months with no sweeteners, they all taste like crap and you will naturally be averse to them.

  34. Lizzie

    Hi Dr Davis, I am looking for an alternative to Natvia for baking etc, how do you rate coconut syrup? A low GI factor and also high in amino acids?

    • Dr. Davis

      I would avoid, Lizzie, as it is rich in sucrose.

      Most of us have become so darned carbohydrate/sugar intolerant due to years of carbohydrate overexposure that minimizing future exposure really helps regain control over health.

  35. Hi Dr Davis, what are your thoughts on coconut syrup to replace sweetners in baking? Low GI and also high in amino acids?

  36. Boundless

    I was watching an interview with Dr. Richard J. Johnson (author of “The Fat Switch”), in which he mentioned, without further comment, that the fructose in HFCS is a monosaccharide fructose, and not as molecular component of sucrose, which is a disaccharide. HFCS isn’t sucrose with some extra fructose. It’s free glucose mixed with free fructose.

    To what extent might this aggravate matters, compared to a similar fructose load from sucrose?

      • Boundless

        ???? indeed.

        Where I suspect this is leading is that by inventing the process for making high fructose corn syrup (which relies on high yielding hybrid corn, much of which is GMO), Big Food may have done two things that will sound disturbingly familiar to students of WB:

        1. HFCS made sugar much more toxic to consume (due to the increased fructose, and the fact that it’s unbound fructose, and the fact the fructose has zero effect on appetite {whereas glucose is at least somewhat satiating}).

        2. HFCS dramatically reduced the cost of adding sugar to processed products, which dramatically increased the percentage of packaged foods that have added sugar, allowed existing sweetened products to use more, and frequently displaced the slightly less toxic/more satiating sucrose in that role.

        I consider HFCS to be the #2 factor (behind #1, semi-dwarf hybrid wheat) in the perfect storm of disastrous diet during the last 30 years. #3 is low-fat mania. These 3 easily account for 95% of diet-driven ailments.

  37. Alis

    Dear Dr, Davis,

    I became interested in “Wheat Belly” due to a problem of increasing visceral fat (disproportionate to fat accumulation on other parts of the body) and also low energy. It took me a while to get a hold of the book, so I started cutting out gluten from my diet a month before I started reading the book, without noticing any obvious change. Then I learned that commercially labeled “gluten free” items were actually unhealthy and visceral-fat provoking. I believe in avoiding processed foods and making meals from scratch, so am open to avoiding those foods and making my own. But then I read that “intermediate carbohydrates” such as quinoa, buckwheat and millet are also to be avoided in order to lose belly fat, and I was using those as a replacement (I particularly love quinoa). Maple syrup and honey were some of my favorite sweeteners, believing that if they were pure and natural they were a lot healthier than table sugar and other types of processed sweeteners. The idea of giving them up makes me sad. But when I read that fruits contain fructose and are then also a major cause of visceral fat production, I felt distressed and utterly discouraged.

    I now have the impression that pretty much the whole basis of my diet, which I believed to be healthy (together with an active lifestyle) may actually be the cause of my round belly. I try to maintain a quasi-vegetarian diet, minimizing the frequency of meat ingestion, and choosing only ethical meat and sustainable seafood when I do. I eat lots of yoghurt, fruits, vegetables, beans and gluten-free grains, choosing local and organic when possible. I’m allergic to peanuts, lactose-sensitive (milk and butter often cause me stomach pain) and can’t stand cheeses with strong smell. When I think of cutting out fruits on top of the challenges of maintaining a gluten-free diet and reducing the amount of sugar (which I thought I was already doing), I feel something pretty close to despair. My breakfasts are based on fruits (an orange, half a banana, four prunes and berries or other types of fruit mixed with yogurt, soy milk and home-made granola). I eat an apple or other fruits as a snack every afternoon. Is that really causing my belly-fat production? Are there any fruits that have a lower fat-inducing effect? Do all dried fruits increase blood sugar so much? If fruits are cut off, what could replace them with to provide the fiber needed to maintain healthy and regular bowel movements?

  38. Well, at least one “personal injury” specialist lawyer has finally discovered HFCS, and apparently hopes it’s the next settlement revenue stream. There have been several newsite articles about this guy and his case in the last couple of weeks:
    http://jmichaelhayes.com/PracticeSpecialties/ObesityIllnessesLawsuits/tabid/142/Default.aspx

    From one of the reports: “As I understand it, there are six major manufacturers of this substance in the United States, so I sued all six,” Hayes said. He even admits that it will be years before the matter is resolved, but at least it may create wider public awareness of the hazards of fructose.

    Interestingly, he seems to be soliciting individual clients, rather than multitudes for a class action.

    Tip for anyone contemplating joining the actions: Don’t.
    Just shut off the HFCS (and wheat) in the diet of the affected individual. It will be immediately effective, a lot less frustrating, and if enough of you do it, the corn refiners will get the message sooner, and right where it matters, accounts receivable.

    • Moving obesity into the legitimate ‘disease’ catagory could be instrumental in proving the above mentioned product liability lawsuit……where o ne can prove a causal connection between HFCS and a specific disease.

      While everyone needs to make a living, I think he’s less interested in the financial rewards and more interested in the public awareness…..plus, he read WB and follows the lifestyle so I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt!

  39. DebT

    Well I just checked the healthy dark chocolate I bought yesterday. It contains raw organic agave syrup so it looks like it’s destined for the rubbish bin. Well I won’t be tempted to eat it anyway.

    My son got a very red chin and one cheek yesterday. He had 3 squares of this chocolate. I was wondering if it was the chocolate. Nothing else in it seemed bad but he started acting up again and I wondered if he had had wheat in something, maybe it was the agave.