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I've noticed that a lot of the sweets I buy in the health food store are sweetened with fruit juice, honey or something called fructose? Are these better for me than sugar? — K.Lehman, NY

Anne Coulston



Yes and no. All carbohydrates, whether the source is sucrose, fruit juice or honey are converted through digestion and metabolism to glucose, the sugar that travels in the blood stream and provides necessary energy for all our body cells.

Fructose is a carbohydrate that is metabolized differently in the body than glucose, but it can be converted to glucose by the liver when it is needed for energy. Fructose can also contribute to the synthesis of fats for energy storage. Sugar, or sucrose is a refined carbohydrate and is purely glucose and fructose when metabolized.

Fruit juice and honey contain trace amounts of vitamins and minerals that contribute to overall health. However, since they are usually used in addition to other sweeteners, the amount of fruit juice and honey that are in a product won’t likely provide any meaningful amount of nutrients to the diet.

About Anne Coulston

Ann M. Coulston, M.S.,R.D., graduated from Cornell University with a master's degree in nutritional science and is a former research dietitian at Stanford University Medical Center, and a past president of both the American Dietetic Association (1998-1999) and the California Dietetic Association. Ann specializes in clinical research on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and collaborates with medical scientists in research on diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

She has been recognized for excellence in the practice of research and clinical nutrition by the American Dietetic Association Foundation, and is the recipient of the American Dietetic Association's Medallion award for leadership. The California Dietetic Association has awarded her the Distinguished Service and Outstanding Member awards.

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