Is sucrose and sugar the same thing

Refined sugar: fructose healthier than other sugars? Warning from experts

Five servings of fruit and vegetables a day: Many children are familiar with this rule of thumb. It has been recommended and diligently promoted for many years by the German Nutrition Society (DGE), among others. In the meantime, however, there has been a specification, because only two portions should consist of fruit, vegetables should make up the majority. The reason for this restriction is the high amount of sugar in the fruits.

Fruit sugar, also called fructose, is a simple sugar. Sucrose, on the other hand, is a double sugar made up of fructose and glucose. "The two substances are chemically very similar, even if table sugar first has to be broken down during digestion," says Stefan Kabisch, study doctor at the German Institute for Nutritional Research in Potsdam and the Berlin Charité. The effort for the body is very low.

The main difference: while glucose can only be absorbed by the body when insulin is released, fructose does not need it. It used to be seen as an advantage for diabetics. "Today there is evidence that fructose is preferably stored as fat, especially in the form of liver fat and visceral belly fat," says Kabisch. Studies would have shown that at least in mice. Metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes could even favor fructose.

Experts on fructose: "Sugar is the same as sugar"

As a rule, you do not have to do without the daily apple, which supposedly keeps the doctor away. Instead, it pays to take a close look at the supermarket and be critical. Because fructose is also found in many processed foods. "Children's ketchup, which is advertised as healthy because it contains" only the sweetness from fruit ", can safely be described as an advertising lie," says expert Kabisch. "It sounds like a natural source, but fructose can be obtained from sugar cane or beet using the appropriate processes." It is inexpensive to produce and fructose has a higher sweetening power. And it can be disguised as healthy.

The consumer protection organization Foodwatch has long complained that sugar is not labeled in a consumer-friendly way. "At the moment, fructose is the bad guy, but the problem is basically with the sugar," says Oliver Huizinga of the consumer protection organization. Foodwatch demands traffic light labeling. This only made it easier to identify sugar bombs among the processed foods - not among the types of fruit.

Of course, fruit also contains vitamins on the other hand. An apple is therefore still preferable to a chocolate bar. But compared to vegetables, the fruits look old. "Sugar is the same as sugar", emphasizes Silke Restemeyer from the DGE.

Fructose: WHO wants to limit sugar consumption

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made it its mission to limit sugar consumption in general. "The WHO states that no more than 10 percent of food energy should come from sugar," says Restemeyer. "In the future it should only be five percent." Sugar is not divided into different types. That means: fructose from fruit must also be taken into account if you want to stick to it.

However, some people limit their sugar consumption for other reasons: because they cannot tolerate it, for example. Experts divide the so-called fructose intolerance into two forms. "The common intestinal form manifests itself in digestive problems, flatulence, diarrhea and abdominal cramps," explains Kabisch. The causes are disturbances in the uptake of fructose from food into the intestinal wall. The reason lies on the one hand in the genes, on the other hand the amount of fructose ingested also plays a role.

This is probably one of the reasons for the surge in intolerance in recent years. "With normal fructose exposure (25 grams of fructose in studies), around 10 to 15 percent of the population developed symptoms," says Kabisch. With a higher dose of fructose, there are significantly more people. That means: the more fructose is added to ready-made foods, the more people may become intolerant.

However, only the hereditary - the intestinal - form of fructose intolerance is really dangerous. "But it only affects about 1 in 100,000 people," says Kabisch. You have an enzyme defect in your liver. The result is a serious metabolic imbalance, which among other things leads to hypoglycaemia, but also to coagulation disorders. Even small amounts of fructose are life-threatening for those affected. For this reason, fructose is taboo for life.

For everyone else, the following applies: if you are healthy and not overweight, you usually do not have to limit your fruit intake. Nevertheless, if in doubt, you should rather use vegetables - and especially not be misled by advertising lies. (dpa / tmn)

Editor's note: This article is a contribution from our online archive.