The Meal Matters Most

What Makes Healthy Food Healthy: From a Stress Perspective

If fructose is so bad for us why does it taste so awesome?


Lollipop ~

Lollipop ~ (Photo credit: J I N N e e Răng Thỏ :x)

In a recent lawsuit a family is suing the Corn industry for $5 million dollars saying HFCS caused their 14-year-old daughter’s type II diabetes. I have no idea how that is going to turn out, but it will be interesting to watch.

It makes one wonder that we know this ingredient has these potential dangers but why is it in everything and why are we as human beings so attracted to it?

Fructose has benefits to the system. Extreme benefits. And if you’re reading my blog you know that something with benefits to the body doesn’t come for free, we have to pay a “tax” for that energy.  The higher the energy benefit the higher the cost. Fructose is like that. I don’t know all the physiology, but from what I read and understand it bypasses what normal sugars must go through, it’s a straight shot of energy and that would theoretically make it very expensive to the system.  So when we see all the studies about how horrible it is and creates all types of inflammatory processes and negative impacts, we should also remember that this may be because it is at the very tip of the pyramid providing us energy.

So its bad because its so good?

Kinda. The problem again with the “good” is that food (product) like that would need serious buffers in order to not have the deleterious effects (which is why it is pretty safe to say most are correct calling it a “toxin” or “drug“).  You could think of it like running an excessive marathon without proper eating, training or recovering. This is why HFCS is so much worse for us than honey (and an argument could be made for being even slightly worse than sugar).  Its because as I understand HFCS has what is called “unbound” fructose, whereas the other two are bound. That means it is more freely available. It also has nothing to buffer the energy consequences unlike honey which has loads of nutrients, or fruit with all of the benefits of fiber and phytonutrients.

Its the quick love of fructose, our greatest form of energy that manufactures prey upon and the more stress it causes our systems, in a weird way the more we think we need it (the cycle of addiction and motivation to what our brain thinks will help us).

Ever wonder why kids LOVE, like seriously love-will-sneak-to-the-cookie-jar love sugar? They are “hard-wired” to love it. It’s in our DNA to get the quickest and densest energy source when our brains are proliferating and growing like crazy (the brain takes TONS of energy to run).  So give them HFCS? Not exactly. They are going to need more energy foods, but fruit and sweets with lots of nutrition would be much better. The occasional “comfort foods” which are junk foods made the real way. Real mac-n-cheese made with quality ingredients instead of the package loaded with the fake sugar-salt-fat, which is really hfcs-transfats-msg. These hit the brain “higher” so it gets associated as the “best” source of energy (and soothes the brain). This is bad because that form of energy can’t be managed so it becomes really bad for us. Hence “junk foods”, not equal to sugar-fat, but the more refined the more consequences.

Here’s the trick and the magic.  It’s called distraction. Focus on “amount” and they all look equal. Sugar is sugar, fat is fat, if something has lots of fat and sugar and we look at just the number then they’re all equally good or bad. But if we look at the stress they cause because of the context they are in and the buffers they supply then whole foods (not refined and processed) come out on top.  Thinking in terms of “amount” is linear thinking. Thinking in terms of “context” and interactions is nonlinear thinking. Our current medical framework is linear.

This is most likely why even though honey and HFCS have “equal” amounts of fructose.  Honey is shown to be “anti-diabetic”.  While HFCS and the Corn Industry is being sued for causing it.

Additional References:

  • Metabolic and behavioural effects of sucrose and fructose/glucose drinks in the rat. Sheludiakova A, Rooney K, Boakes RAEur J Nutr. 2012 Jun;51(4):445-54. doi: 10.1007/s00394-011-0228-x. Epub 2011 Jul 29. LINK 
  • Kids’ Sugar Cravings Might Be Biological.
  • Why High Fructose Corn Syrup Is Worse Than Sugar…And Why It’s Not. The Real Food University
  • Dopamine regulates the motivation to act, study shows – Science Daily‎
  • A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain.
  • Supplementation of Lactobacillus plantarum K68 and Fruit-Vegetable Ferment along with High Fat-Fructose Diet Attenuates Metabolic Syndrome in Rats with Insulin Resistance. Huang HY, Korivi M, Tsai CH, Yang JH, Tsai YC. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:943020. doi: 10.1155/2013/943020.
  • Food Fitness Health.
  • CO2 Factors Benefits of Fructose.
  • Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Ouyang X, Cirillo P, Sautin Y,J Hepatol. 2008 Jun;48(6):993-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2008.02.011. Epub 2008 Mar 10.
  • Improvement of liquid fructose-induced adipose tissue insulin resistance by ginger treatment in rats is associated with suppression of adipose macrophage-related proinflammatory cytokines. Wang J, Gao H, Ke D, Zuo G, Yang Y, Yamahara J, Li Y. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:590376. doi: 10.1155/2013/590376
  • Honey–a novel antidiabetic agent. Erejuwa OO, Sulaiman SA, Wahab MS. Int J Biol Sci. 2012;8(6):913-34. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.3697.
  • Effect of fruit restriction on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes–a randomized trial. Christensen AS, Viggers L, Hasselström K, Gregersen S. Nutr J. 2013 Mar 5;12:29. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-29. LINK
  • Fructose-1,6-bisphosphate supports cerebral energy metabolism in pigs after ischemic brain injury caused by experimental particle embolization. Kaakinen T, Heikkinen J, Dahlbacka S,Heart Surg Forum. 2006;9(6):E828-35. LINK
  • The effect of two energy-restricted diets, a low-fructose diet versus a moderate natural fructose diet, on weight loss and metabolic syndrome parameters: a randomized controlled trial. Madero M, Arriaga JC, Jalal D,Metabolism. 2011 Nov;60(11):1551-9. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2011.04.001. Epub 2011 May 31. LINK
  • Total antioxidant content of alternatives to refined sugar. Phillips KM, Carlsen MH, Blomhoff R. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jan;109(1):64-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.014. LINK
  • Sugar cane and sugar beet molasses, antioxidant-rich alternatives to refined sugar. Valli V, Gómez-Caravaca AM, Di Nunzio M, Danesi F, Caboni MF, Bordoni A. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Dec 26;60(51):12508-15. doi: 10.1021/jf304416d. Epub 2012 Dec 12. LINK

Author: Lori Hogenkamp

Lori's passion is for food, the brain, science and stress shifting perspectives .

4 thoughts on “If fructose is so bad for us why does it taste so awesome?

  1. Pingback: Ice from Fast Food Restaurants Dirtier than Toilet Water, Study Reveals — State of Globe

  2. I put an answer to a “is food addictive” taken from same Ludwig study on “The DailyMeal”:

    Our unconscious brains drive our behavior thru signalling pathways which ideally drive us to resources. Addiction is excessive and misleading motivation because of misprogramming. When we have foods that are sources of stress and simultaneously stress relief (sugar and sugar/fat combo) they racket up and down sensors for motivation and confuse and contort our balances. “High” sources of sugar we *think* is energy. Which is energy but it’s too excessive on the system. so this creates stress that has us seeking more energy. We get all kinds of crazy confused signals for eating and overeating because we no longer have our senses leading us to food for feeling good (healthy clear energy) but rather food for self-medication (good via pain/anxiety relief). You could say whole foods real foods are the answer, but first most have to be weaned back and brains reprogrammed. Food therapy. Our just starting switching out for whole food sugar souces or high nutrition/antioxidants ingredients in your meals.

    (This hints at why “elimination” diets or intermittent ketogenic, fasting, high nutrition and the lot and myriad of diets may be useful in reprogramming the brain and getting back to solid nutrition and whole foods.)

    Berries reduce postprandial insulin responses to wheat and rye breads in healthy women. Törrönen R, Kolehmainen M, Sarkkinen E, Poutanen K, Mykkänen H, Niskanen L. JournalJ Nutr. 2013 Apr;143(4):430-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.169771. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

    Impact of Dietary Polyphenols on Carbohydrate Metabolism. Kati Hanhineva, Riitta Törrönen, Isabel Bondia-Pons, et al. Int J Mol Sci. 2010; 11(4): 1365–1402. doi: 10.3390/ijms11041365

    Possible effects of dietary polyphenols on sugar absorption and digestion.
    Williamson G. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Jan;57(1):48-57. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201200511. Epub 2012 Nov 26.

  3. I can’t say I agree about the taste. I like, sometimes love the taste of real sugar (sucrose), but fructose just tastes like sticky glop. It leaves a slightly foul aftertaste and makes me want to avoid the product in the future. I’ve been complaining about it since before I even knew what it was; I remember some cheap ice cream from the 1970s with that taste that I just couldn’t stand. I didn’t know what they did to it, but it just tasted foul.

    • This is understandable. Some people are “super-tasters” or actually taste with their tongues instead of seeking a brain-satisfaction extreme version of a resource. Why I would also venture to say that “tasting” of fructose is more of a brain thing. That it “feels” like it tastes good to many people, but the actual taste (when you’re brain isn’t on stress overload) may actually be quite unappealing. This is a large part of readjusting our “taste” to a more balanced measure of what actually tastes good, which will be more balanced and not seeking the extreme. And I completely agree, I have always tasted the difference when a snack food made the transition to HFCS, its taste was then “off” to me as well.

Join the Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s