Does Honey Contain Fructose?

Date: 5th March 2021

Honey drizzled onto a pancake.

The short answer is:
Yes, honey contains fructose.  Fructose is a sugar and is also the main type of sugar found in honey.

What Is Fructose?

Fructose is a sugar and sweet-tasting carbohydrate. Fructose is also called fruit sugar - or levulose.   It is sugar derived from plants.  Honey is made from nectar secreted by flowers and collected by honey bees.  Along with glucose and galactose, fructose is a monosaccharide (simple sugar), meaning it is easy for the body to digest.

Fruits and vegetables are a key source of fructose.

The Fructose Content Of Honey

On average, honey is 38% fructose, and 31% sucrose.  The remainder is a combination of glucose and maltose.  

Fructose is sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), but not as sweet as artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.

Although fructose is a naturally occurring sugar and the main sugar component of honey, nevertheless, honey is not recommended for diabetics.  There is some debate around the suitability of fructose for those with diabetes, and some research suggests fructose may be as dangerous as glucose for people with this condition (1). 

Properties And Characteristics Of Fructose

  • When heated, fructose decreases in sweetness (2).
  • Fructose is a humectant - i.e. it helps reduce the loss of moisture.  This is one of the properties that makes honey popular in beauty and skin care products.
  • It is highly soluble in water.
  • In the human brain, fructose is converted into glucose (3).
  • Fructose is sometimes used as a food preservative.
  • While most carbohydrates have around the same amount of calories, fructose is sweeter, so manufacturers may use less fructose to get the same sweetness.
  • 100g of powdered fructose contains 368 calories.

Allergy to Fructose

People with allergy to fructose need to avoid foods such as honey, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, agave, and molasses among others.  Symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

References

(1) Janice J. Hwang, Lihong Jiang, Muhammad Hamza, Feng Dai, Renata Belfort-DeAguiar, Gary Cline, Douglas L. Rothman, Graeme Mason, Robert S. Sherwin. The human brain produces fructose from glucose. JCI Insight, 2017; 2 (4) DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.90508.

(2) Belitz, Hans-Dieter & Grosch, Werner & Schieberle, Peter. (2008). Carbohydrates. 10.1007/978-3-540-69934-7_5. 

(3) McPherson JD, Shilton BH, Walton DJ. Role of fructose in glycation and cross-linking of proteins. Biochemistry 1988;27:1901-7. PMID 3132203. 












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