Difference Between Fructose and Sugar (With Table)

Carbohydrates are essential for the functioning of the body. They play a vital role in energy production in the body. Carbohydrates are further classified into two types monosaccharide and disaccharide. The two most common examples of monosaccharides are glucose and fructose. Both the forms of monosaccharides seem similar but have distinct differences.

Fructose vs Sugar

The main difference between fructose and sugar is that fructose does not increase the blood sugar or glucose level rapidly while sugar increases the blood sugar level rapidly. Fructose is considered harmful only in excess amounts while sugar is considered harmful in minimum amounts also.

Fructose is derived from sugar cane, corn, sugar beets, and other fruits. Fructose is also known as fruit sugar. The most commercially produced fructose is high fructose corn syrup which is also shortened as HFCS. The molecular formula of fructose is C6H12O6. Fructose is a cheap and sweeter flavoring agent and preservative.

On the other hand, sugar is a form of Carbohydrate. Sugar which is simple and unbounded can be classified into two types monosaccharide and disaccharide. The most common form of sugar is table sugar that is consumed regularly. Sugar plays a vital role in the production of glucose which acts as fuel to the body. Excessive level of sugar is harmful to the body and can affect the other organs of the body.

Comparison Table Between Fructose and Sugar

Parameters of Comparison Fructose Sugar
Source PlantsGreen plants, vegetables and from animals through milk
Type of carbohydrate MonosaccharideMonosaccharide or disaccharide
GI value 1965
pH 7 7
Uses Fructose is mainly used in processed and packaged foods like energy drinks, flavored water, and other low-calorie products is used in adding volume or texture, coating, and flavoring in medicines. It is also used in processed foods and acts as an antioxidant and preservative. It is also used in bakeries for the property of caramelization

What is Fructose?

Fructose is also known as fruit sugar. It is a simple sugar that occurs in honey, fruits, corn syrup, and other products and their derivatives. Fructose is typically very sweet. Due to its increased sweetness, it is widely used in soft drinks and other food which contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Fructose has the potential to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream during the digestion process.

Generally, fructose does not have any impact on the production of insulin and does not affect blood glucose levels. The GI value of fructose is lower which is around 19. Initially, fructose was considered as a good alternative to table sugar but later researchers contradicted the consideration. Fructose is metabolized in the liver. This helps the blood glucose or sugar level to remain constant after fructose consumption and does not fluctuate rapidly.

After consumption of most of the other simple sugars, the blood sugar level rises but not in the case of fructose. But in excessive consumption of fructose, the liver cannot process the heavy amount and converts it into fat which is later carried in the blood and stored in the form of triglycerides. Fructose is widely used in the food industry in crystalline form.

Various researches have proven that excessive fructose levels can increase the appetite and impair the body’s ability to use the insulin produced. This further suppresses the circulating ghrelin, which is the appetite-stimulating hormone in the body.

What is Sugar?

Sugar refers to the generic term given to soluble carbohydrates which are sweet tasting. Sugar can be simple sugar which is known as monosaccharides or compound sugar are known as disaccharides. Longer chains of monosaccharides are known as oligosaccharides or polysaccharides. Such longer chains are not considered as sugar.

Common examples of monosaccharides are glucose, fructose, and galactose while common examples of disaccharides are sucrose, lactose, and maltose. The most abundant natural sources of simple sugar are honey, fruits, and the tissues of plants. Most of the simple unbounded sugars are made from plants while lactose is the only sugar that is found in milk and dairy products and not in plants.

The cheapest source of sugar is corn sugar. The Indian subcontinent was the first to cultivate sugar on large scale. Sugar cane was the native source of sugar in the Asian continent. the word sugar is derived from the sun script word “Sarkaar” and the French word “Sucre”. The GI of sugar is 65 and the pH of sugar is 7. Though different types of sugar have different GI values, the value of 65 is of table sugar. Starchy foods have generally a higher GI.

Sugar can turn hard and lumpy in moisture therefore it is always advised to store it in a cool and dry place. Sugar is used as a sweetener. It is used widely in baking and confectionery for icing and other properties. It is also used as a preservative and antioxidant in the food industry. It has a vital role in the pharmaceutical industry as it is used for coating, flavoring, and adding volume to medicines.

Main Differences Between Fructose and Sugar

  1. Fructose is a monosaccharide while sugar is a large term and includes monosaccharides as well as disaccharides.
  2. Fructose is sweeter than sugar.
  3. Fructose does not cause a rapid increase in the blood sugar level while sugar causes a rapid increase in the blood sugar level.
  4. High fructose level increases appetite and promotes obesity while sugar in high quantity increases comparatively less appetite and obesity.
  5. Fructose is derived from plants while sugar is obtained from plants as well as animals.

Conclusion

Carbohydrates act as a fuel to the body as it provides energy. The breakdown of carbohydrates in the body is usually in the form of glucose which later enters the bloodstream. Glucose is essential for the functioning of the body. Various naturally occurring products have high levels of carbohydrates in them.

Excessive consumption of any product is bad and so is the consumption of fructose or sugar. Both the products can cause a rise in the blood glucose level and lead to other health problems like diabetes, colon cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease, pancreatic cancer, kidney disease, damage of muscles and nerves, and can even damage the retina. A balanced diet is a key to healthy living.

References

  1. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.nu.01.070181.002253
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168827818300667
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