Is Fructose Harmful for You? Find out!
Purabi Gunjal (she/her)

Purabi Gunjal (she/her)

Jul 06Nutrition

Is Fructose Harmful for You? Find out!

What is fructose?

Fructose is a type of simple sugar that can be easily absorbed by our bodies. The main sources of natural fructose include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

Table sugar or sucrose contains 50% of fructose and 50% of glucose. It is also found in sweeteners such as honey, agave syrup and high-fructose corn syrup. Even packaged or processed foods having sugar as one of the major ingredients are high in fructose.

How does your body process fructose?

Only the liver can metabolise fructose. The liver cells convert the fructose into glucose to use it as energy for the body.

Is fructose harmful to your body?

The answer to this question is yes and no.

Fructose from added sugars is harmful: Frequent consumption of processed and packaged foods is bad for our body. It is a misconception that fructose, a natural sugar, can be a healthier alternative to refined sugar. These foods contain high quantities of processed fructose that are unsuitable for our bodies.

Fructose from fruits and vegetables is beneficial: Natural fructose from fresh fruits and vegetables is not harmful to our body. For it to show negative effects, you will have to consume a lot of fruits every day. But, no one can eat that many fruits as it has a lot of fibre content that induces satiety.

Also, unlike glucose, fructose does not cause an insulin spike. Hence, it can be a safer sweetener option if consumed in controlled amounts for diabetics and people trying to manage their weight.

Why is fructose overload harmful to you?

Our body has glycogen stores in the muscles and the liver. All the sugars and carbohydrates that we consume gets converted into a simpler form - glucose. Based on our requirements, the body will use this glucose for energy. Some amount of glucose will be stored in the muscle cells and liver. After that, whatever is excess, will be stored as fat.

Similarly, as the liver is the only organ that can metabolise fructose, eating a high fructose diet can put immense pressure on the liver, and it will convert all the excess amounts into fat.


What are the repercussions of fructose overload?

Usually, fructose overload happens when you consume too many processed and packaged foods with added sugars. But, it can also occur with excessive consumption of fruits. Fructose overload can have harmful effects on your body.

  • Deranged lipid profile: Excess fructose can elevate your VLDL levels that are bad cholesterol. It leads to fat accumulation around all our vital organs. It is one of the main reasons for heart diseases.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver: It can also lead to the deposition of fat around the liver.
  • Leptin resistance: Excessive fructose consumption messes with leptin, our satiety hormone. Our body does not understand when we are full, leading to overeating. It disturbs our body digestion and its ability to regulate fat as a fuel, causing weight gain.
  • Insulin resistance: Any type of simple sugar in large amounts can lead to insulin resistance. 
  • Obesity: Insulin resistance, overeating can all lead to obesity.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Even this is a cause of insulin resistance.

How to treat or prevent fructose overload?

Having foods high in sugar may be acceptable once in a while. It becomes a problem when you start having it too often.

  • Avoid processed and packaged foods, especially the ones high in sugar.
  • Read nutrition labels before purchasing anything. Check if it has high fructose corn syrup or added fructose, etc.
  • Control the amount of sugar that you consume in the entire day. It includes grains, fruits, vegetables - the total amount of carbs.
  • Do not have more than 3-4 servings of fruits every day for a prolonged period. If you do that, your body can start showing negative signs.
  • Avoid frequent consumption of packaged fruit juices, syrups, squashes, and smoothies.

How much fructose is enough for the body?

We cannot determine an exact number as it will differ from person to person. Even every fruit and vegetable will have a different amount of fructose in it. For optimal health, you must consume:

  • 1-2 servings of fruits and dry fruits per day
  • 3-5 servings of vegetables per day

What is the best time to eat fruits?

Fruits may be a better choice instead of processed foods and desserts, but for optimal benefits, you have to eat them the right way. The wrong way to eat fruits is eating them along with your meal. It’s because our meals are high in carbohydrates, so our body will utilise that first. It will store some part of it, and the excess will get stored as fat.

The right time to eat fruits include:

Breakfast: You can eat fruits for breakfast. We are most active during the daytime, so our bodies can optimally utilise the energy from the fruits.

Snacks: In between meal times is another better time to eat fruits.

Pre-workout: If you do intense workouts or heavy physical activity in the evening, have fruit 30-40 mins before that. It will act as a concentrated energy source, and your body will utilise that when you engage in the workout.

Post-workout: You must have fruits immediately after working out because the body’s glycogen stores get depleted, and the sugars get low. Having fruits can help stabilise that. If you do not wish to have fruits, you can even eat dinner post-workout.


To conclude, artificial fructose from processed and packaged foods is harmful to our bodies. But, natural fructose from fruits and vegetables is highly beneficial for our body, especially when consumed in the right amounts and at the recommended time. It is crucial to note that anything in excess is harmful over the long run. Hence, do not go overboard with fruits too. Only eat how much the body requires.


Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

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