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Fructose Versus Glucose: Which Should You Avoid?

by SmartyPants Staff

Fructose.  Glucose.  Sucrose.  Sucralose. We are indeed, a nation with a sweet tooth. On average, Americans consume 100 pounds of sugar and sweeteners each year, or 30 teaspoons per day! Much controversy, however, exists around sweeteners. Should you coat your oatmeal with brown sugar, or bathe it in agave nectar?  While moderation remains key with any food, crucial differences do exist in how fructose and glucose are digested and metabolized.


Fruit remains a natural source of fructose.  As sweet as many fruits are, they contain very small amounts of fructose. The problem with fructose comes when we eat large amounts, such as is in foods containing high fructose corn syrup and in foods like agave nectar (no, it’s not healthier!).  Foods that remain high in high fructose corn syrup (note the first word: “high” here) include:

  • most processed foods
  • soda and sweetened drinks
  • crackers, breads and baked goods
  • agave nectar

Fructose presents a problem when it has been isolated and concentrated, and is eaten in large amounts.  Large amounts of fructose make a bee line straight for the liver, bypassing the filtering effect of the gut.  This presents a toxic load for the liver to process, taxing it and sometimes leading to liver scarring. Extra fructose is also converted by the liver into glycerol, which raises levels of unhealthy triglycerides. High fructose levels also reduce sensitivity to insulin, which controls blood sugar levels. High fructose and high fructose corn syrup intake has been linked to:

  • obesity
  • weight gain and increased belly fat
  • high levels of blood lipids
  • lower levels of “good” cholesterol
  • increased levels of uric acid, a waste by-product linked with gout
  • fatty and/or scarred liver
  • increased AGES, substances linked with early aging

Bottom line?  Avoid agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods.  Find your fructose in moderate amounts of whole fruits and other nutrient dense sources, like vitamins.

Women’s Complete


Our bodies need glucose, a common sugar derived from starches, sweets and unprocessed and processed grains, for energy.  In fact, our brains rely mostly on glucose for thinking power. When we eat starchy or processed foods, our blood sugar levels rise, and our pancreases secrete insulin that will bind to the glucose molecules to escort them into cells to be used for energy.  The problem arises when we eat too many foods high in starch.  The extra glucose not used for energy is stored as fat.  Over time, our pancreas wears out and it can’t produce the amount of insulin needed to keep our blood sugar low enough.  The result?  Metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes. Because of this reduction of effective insulin, much-needed glucose does not reach cells, and our cells starve. Long-term high glucose levels may result in:

Bottom line?  Get your glucose from complex carbs like vegetables and whole grains, and reserve refined and processed grains for special events.
While our bodies need sugar for energy and functioning, its excess leads to body system dysfunction and illness. Back in the day, fruits were considered “God’s nectar”, not high fructose corn syrup drenched desserts.  Whether glucose or fructose, don’t follow the old adage to “eat dessert first.”  In fact, to promote good health and well-being, skip it most days, and pass on other refined starches as well.
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Posted on November 9, 2012

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