Just the facts. From the experts.

Best Food Facts recently received a question via our Twitter page, from Maria Rosa Troya.

Consumer Question: I have a question, I heard that fructose is metabolized by the liver, is this true? How different would that be from sucrose?

For the answer, we reached out to one of our experts, Dr. Nancy Keim, Research Chemist, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, USDA ARS, and Adjunct Professor, University of California, Davis.

Dr. Keim: "The simple answer is that yes, the liver metabolizes fructose. In fact, the majority of fructose entering the liver is rapidly taken up because of the high activity of an enzyme system that metabolizes fructose. Once in the liver cells, fructose quickly enters the pathways of carbohydrate metabolism, and is used to generate energy, or can be interconverted to other small molecules which eventually can be used for building blocks to form lipids.  

"The same scenario holds true for sucrose, which is a disaccharide containing one molecule of fructose and one molecule of glucose. Sucrose is split into these two monosaccharides in the intestine, and the fructose molecule is thought to be metabolized in the same manner as if it were eaten as the pure fructose. Fructose is also metabolized by kidney, muscle, and adipose tissue, but only small quantities reach these tissues because it is so readily taken up and used by the liver."


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