Q. Are you familiar with Dr. Robert Lustig’s presentation on fructose, called “Sugar, The Bitter Truth” ?
What’s your opinion on this? Shouldn’t pure fructose sweeteners (which are marketed as low calorie) be banned? According to this presentation, wouldn’t it be a good idea to substitute all sucrose with a larger amount of maltose?
A. Although I respect Dr. Lustig and his work, your questions are the perfect illustration of just how badly this viral video has confused the issue among consumers (and more than a few professionals). Here’s what always seems to get lost in the biochemical mumbo-jumbo: Dr. Lustig’s observations apply to the dangers of excessive fructose intake.
Rather than ban fructose sweeteners or replace all sucrose with maltose, there’s a much simpler solution: Limit your intake of all concentrated sweeteners. I am convinced–and nothing in the medical literature nor in Dr. Lustig’s infamous presentation has yet persuaded me otherwise–that if you’re reasonably healthy and your added sugar intake doesn’t exceed the recommended 5 to 10% of calories, fructose poses little threat to your health and well-being.
What’s worse, this persistent confusion about fructose leads to “solutions” that could make the obesity and diabetes epidemic even worse. While maltose may not contain fructose, it contains the same number of (empty) calories, meaning that it’s just as fattening. And it has an even higher glycemic index, meaning that it would cause an even sharper rise in blood sugar. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire!
Here’s the bottom line: Fructose is not the problem. Excessive intake of concentrated sweeteners is the problem.
P.S. Like maltose, pure fructose contains the same number of calories as sucrose. But because it does not cause the same rise in blood sugar, it is often marketed as an alternative sweetener for diabetics. It should still be consumed in limited quantities.