Cherry in Mouth with Sugar All Over

The human body uses sugar as a source of fuel.  Sugar is converted into glucose during the digestion process and it is then fed to the cells to give them the fuel that’s needed for the body to make repairs.  Protein is the building block and glucose is the construction worker.  So, when we look at fructose vs. sucrose, which one comes out on top when it comes to the body?

Fructose is found mainly in fruits and honey.  It can also be found in high fructose corn syrup, but not regular corn syrup.  Regular corn syrup contains mostly maltrose (malt sugar) with various levels of other types of sugars, including fructose and glucose.  Fructose should not be confused with either high fructose corn syrup or with regular corn syrup, since it is a "naturally" occurring sugar that doesn’t need a lot of chemical processing to be extracted from fruits and honey.

Sucrose is the sugar that’s found in many different types of plants world-wide.  It is the most easily obtained sugar just by doing something as simple as eating a carrot.  The sucrose that a person uses as a sweetener in baking and other food making processes is usually extracted almost exclusively from sugar cane and sugar beets.

Sucrose and fructose are generally the most oft used sugars in the food industry from restaurants to bakeries to consumer food products in places where high fructose corn syrup hasn’t taken over instead.  Basically, if a person lives anywhere outside the USA where high fructose corn syrup production is limited, then the battle for which sugar is in sweet foods comes down to sucrose vs. fructose.

In the USA, as mentioned, the battle between the sugars is high fructose corn syrup vs. every other sugar.  If a person living in the USA avoids HFCS, then they will want to know which sweetener comes out on top between sucrose and fructose.  Metabolically speaking, neither sugar is better or worse than the other.  Numerous studies have been done over the years comparing sucrose, fructose, and several other sugars and how they affect the human body.  The fact of the matter is that the body recognizes all of them as sugar when they hit the taste buds and then starts the process to deal with them appropriately.

The differences are a little more subtle than this.  Obviously, if a person consumes more sugar, the more likely they are to develop serious health problems such as obesity and diabetes, among others.  The less sugar a person consumes, the better, and this is where the sucrose vs. fructose battle heats up.  The amount of sugar used in any given recipe is determined by how sweet the final product is supposed to be.  Sucrose, being as it is the most commonly used table sugar is used as a base scale for "relative sweetness".

Relative sweetness is the scale that determines how other sugars stack up against sucrose as a sweetener in terms of flavor.  Sucrose, when given a factor of 100 (it can be changed to 1 or 52, it’s an arbitrary number) is less sweet than fructose, which is given a factor of 120 on the relative sweetness scale.  Basically, fructose is 20% sweeter than sucrose.  To get the same sweetness as a cup of sucrose, a person would use .80 cups of fructose (a little more than 3/4 cup).  For comparison, lactose (the sugar that naturally occurs in milk) is given a relative sweetness of 25 to sucrose’s 100.

In terms of greater sweetness and as a result, lower sugar consumption, fructose is the clear winner in the sucrose vs. fructose battle.  However, if a person already keeps a handle on how much sugar they are ingesting and their concern is primarily financial, sucrose remains the least expensive sugar that is available to every day consumers.  In terms of cost, sucrose definitely wins.  Because both sugars are processed by the body in the same manner, it comes down to personal choice in the end.

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012