Are You Drinking More Fructose Than You Think?

SONY DSCIf you are a soda drinker, you may be getting a higher dose of harmful sugar fructose than you thought. Researchers have found that popular beverages made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) including Sprite, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew all contain 50 percent more fructose than glucose. This is a blend that calls into question claims that sugar and HFCS are essentially the same.

The research conducted by the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and published in the journal Nutrition, analyzed the chemical composition of 34 popular beverages. The team purchased beverages based on product popularity. They analyzed them for sugar composition in three different laboratories using three different methods.

The research showed that:

  • The results were consistent across the different methods and yielded an average sugar composition of 60 percent fructose and 40 percent glucose in beverages made with HFCS.

  • This analysis of beverages made with HFCS showing a fructose to glucose ratio of 60:40 is considerably higher than the equal proportions found in sucrose.

  • The ingredients on some product labels do not represent their fructose content.


As an example, the team found that the label on Pepsi Throwback indicates it is made with real sugar (sucrose) but the analysis demonstrated that it contains more than 50 percent fructose. Gatorade, Sierra Mist and Mexican Coca-Cola had higher concentrations of fructose than implied by their labels which suggest that these beverages might contain HFCS which is not disclosed on the labels.

We found that what ends up being consumed in these beverages is neither natural sugar nor HFCS, but instead a fructose-intense concoction that could increase ones risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease, said Michael Goran, PhD., director of the CORC and lead author of the study. The human body isnt designed to process this form of sugar at such high levels. Unlike glucose, which serves as fuel for the body, fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat. Given that Americans drink 45 gallons of soda a year, its important for us to have a more accurate understanding of what were actually drinking, including specific label information on the types of sugars.

Today, Americans consume more HFCS per capita than any other nation. Consumption has doubled over the last three decades with much of this increase directly linked to sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks. Diabetes rates have tripled in the same period.

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