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Fructose—How Sweet It Is
The hotter the weather, the more likely that our refrigerator shelves will fill with cooling drinks to get us through the day: iced coffee or tea—the remains of breakfast brews—club soda, plain ice water with a slice or two of lemon in the bottle, and a bottle of simple sugar syrup to add according to each person’s preference.

The simple syrup is essential. This is a usually a mixture of water and regular sugar combined in equal proportions. It mixes into drinks—from lemonade to iced coffee—much easier than granulated sugar.

To make it, either boil the water and sugar together until it is clear, or stir the sugar into water until it is dissolved. It will last for a long time if covered tightly and stored in the fridge.

Unfortunately, this can be a lot of sugar to consume if you have more than one or two iced drinks a day. An easy way to cut down is to use artificial sweeteners but many people are concerned about their ingredients or don’t like their taste.

Another option is fructose. Fructose is almost twice as sweet as sucrose with half the calories.

Fructose is made up of a single sugar molecule. Table sugar combines two different molecules—glucose and fructose to form sucrose. The glucose is absorbed quickly into the blood, but fructose—without the presence of glucose—is not. Granulated fructose is finer than regular table sugar and dissolves easier in cold water.

Most people can enjoy fructose as they would regular sugar particularly in hot or cold drinks, sauces, or sprinkled over cereal. Its intense sweet flavour breaks down a little in cooking; and, because less fructose would be used, it can’t be easily substituted for regular granulated sugar in baking.

On the down side, some people find that pure fructose gives them cramps. This is because fructose remains longer in the digestive tract where it can ferment, yielding gas. High fructose based drinks—or those made with with fructose corn syrup—may also not be ideal for those who need to replenish their energy quickly during an intensive workout.

Fructose is sold as a syrup or in a granulated form at most supermarkets and health food stores.

© Barry Lazar 2000 Email Flavourguy

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