There’s nothing like a glass of apple cider this time of year, but a recent report on fructose might give parents pause before giving kids free rein with the cider. According to a report by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, fructose, glucose and sucrose (which is a mixture of glucose and fructose) are all forms of sugar and can all be turned into fat. But fructose turns to fat far more easily than glucose. Dr. Elizabeth Parks, a lead researcher on the study, compared the process to a traffic stop. The liver acts as a traffic cop, stopping the glucose and considering whether the body should use it as energy or store it as fat. But fructose blows right past the traffic cop and gets turned into fat.
And it doesn’t stop there; the study showed that if fructose was consumed at breakfast the body was more likely to store lunchtime fats, instead of using them for other purposes.
Subjects in the study were lean and healthy; Dr. Parks surmised that people who are heavier and less healthy may convert fructose to fat even more quickly.
But while fructose appears in fruits, the researchers said that the consumption of fruit should not be limited. Processed foods and high-fructose corn syrup were considered most culpable. Apple cider contains only natural fructose, but it might be best considered as a treat rather than a healthy, "natural sugar" thirst quencher.