Crystalline fructose
Crystalline fructose is a processed sweetener derived from corn
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 that is almost entirely fructose
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

. It consists of at least 98% pure fructose, any remainder being water and trace minerals. It is used as a sweetener in the likes of beverages and yogurts, where it substitutes for high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and table sugar. Crystalline fructose is estimated to be about 20 percent sweeter than table sugar, and 5% sweeter than HFCS.


Crystalline fructose is created from cornstarch
Corn starch, cornstarch, cornflour or maize starch is the starch of the corn grain obtained from the endosperm of the corn kernel.-History:...

, but other starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

es such as rice and wheat can be used. In this method, corn is first milled to produce cornstarch, then processed to yield corn syrup
Corn syrup
Corn syrup is a food syrup, which is made from the starch of maize and contains varying amounts of maltose and higher oligosaccharides, depending on the grade. Corn syrup is used in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor...

 which is almost entirely glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

. The glucose obtained is reacted with a series of enzymes to convert nearly all the glucose into fructose. The fructose is then allowed to crystallize out, and is finally dried and milled to produce crystalline fructose.

Health effects

There are studies for and against the health benefits of crystalline fructose.

Crystalline fructose is generally considered safe, but concerns have been raised about health effects, particularly hepatotoxicity
Hepatotoxicity implies chemical-driven liver damage.The liver plays a central role in transforming and clearing chemicals and is susceptible to the toxicity from these agents. Certain medicinal agents, when taken in overdoses and sometimes even when introduced within therapeutic ranges, may injure...

. As of January 2010, the FDA has not designated crystalline fructose to be generally recognized as safe
Generally recognized as safe
Generally recognized as safe is an American Food and Drug Administration designation that a chemical or substance added to food is considered safe by experts, and so is exempted from the usual Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act food additive tolerance requirements.-History:On January 1, 1958,...


Because crystalline fructose is sweeter than the sugars it replaces, less sugar can be used to produce a desired level of sweetness, resulting in a roughly 5-percent reduction in the amount of calories. Fructose is also an isomer of glucose, carrying the same energetic value when burned.

Any positive health benefit of crystalline fructose consumption is fueled primarily by the fact that fructose does have the same value as glucose when burned. However, fructose is processed by the body differently; fructose's causal relationship to hyperlipidemia, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, coronary arterial disease and obesity remain a concern for public health analysts.

External links

  • Nutrition Fact Sheet: Facts About Fructose issued by the American Dietetic Association
    American Dietetic Association
    The American Dietetic Association is the United States' largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, with nearly 72,000 members. The American Dietetic Association is officially changing its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The announcement was made Saturday, September...

     (not to be confused with the American Diabetes Association
    American Diabetes Association
    The American Diabetes Association is a United States-based association working to fight the consequences of diabetes, and to help those affected by diabetes...

  • Sugar: The Bitter Truth - Professor Dr. Robert H. Lustig
    Robert H. Lustig
    Robert H. Lustig, MD is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, at the University of California, San Francisco . He is nationally recognized in the field of neuroendocrinology, with an emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system. He has a special interest in childhood...

    , University of California, links fructose to the obesity epidemic
  • "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" - a link to the presentation and transcript
  • Sugar Association: Alternative Carbohydrate Sweeteners
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