I’ll have a tall glass of fresh-squeezed fructose

Orange juice delivers a potent dose of what is roughly half glucose and half fructose [1].

Glucose, we know, is the simple sugar that serves as the primary source of fuel to the blood, brain and muscle [2p735]. Its intake stimulates the release of insulin, goes through glycolysis to create energy, and is used to synthesize of glycogen for storage [2p735].

Fructose does not stimulate the release of insulin, nor does it enter glycolysis in the same way as glucose [3]. In fact it enters glycolysis a few steps later after going through its own metabolism. After being transported to the liver, fructose is phosphorylated by fructokinase to form fructose 1-phosphate, then by aldolase B to dihydroxyacetone phosphate and glyceraldehyde [3p58]. Glyceraldehyde is phosphorylated to glyceraldehydde 3-phosphate, and this molecule along with dihydroxyacetone enter glycolysis [3p58]. In the muscle, fructose is phosphorylated by hexokinase to fructose 6-phosphate, which is then used for glycogenesis or glycolysis [3p358].

Apart from being famous for being sweeter than glucose and the disaccharide sucrose (of which fructose is half part of), would the low-glycemic “fruit sugar” be better for the body since it create less of an insulin response? Science says “probably not.”

In fact, high consumption of fructose is now being blamed for type 2 diabetes. The influx of fructose to the liver from soda with high-fructose corn syrup is found to interfere with glucose metabolism through metabolic dyslipidemia, a disturbance that may induce insulin resistance [4]. You get extra lipogenesis from fructose. Fructose by-passes the conversion of glucose 6-phosphate to fructose 1,6-phosphate. This is glycolysis’s main regulatory step. Fructose, then, is “unregulated” and able to “uncontrollably” over-produce triglycerides. Evidence is now showing that the diabetes and obesity, which have become modern-day epidemics, could be prevented through significant reduction of fructose in the diet [4].

Research is also showing fructose may be more detrimental than glucose in high amounts. A study at the University of California on overweight or obese adults who were given beverages sweetened with fructose or glucose showed that those drinking the beverage with fructose gained pounds and had higher triglycerides and higher serum LDL cholesterol levels [5].


1. Ghanim H, Mohanty P, Pathak R, Chaudhuri A, Sia CL, Dandona P. Orange juice or fructose intake does not induce oxidative and inflammatory response. Available at:
http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/30/6/1406. Accessed on November 20, 2008.
2. Denniston KJ, Topping JJ, Caret RL. General, Organic, And Biochemistry, 5th ed. New York: McGraw Hill; 2007.
3. Salway JG. Medical biochemistry at a glance, 2nd ed. 2006; Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishing. (excellent book!!)
4. Basciano H, Federico L, Khosrow A. Fructose, insulin resistance and metabolic dyslipidemia. Nutrition & Metabolism. Available at: http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/2/1/5. Accessed on November 22, 2008.
5. DeNoon DJ. Study: Fructose increases heart risk factors and weight. WebMD Health News. Available at: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=82117. Accessed on November 20, 2008.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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