Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Fructose intolerance: Which foods should I avoid?

My daughter has fructose intolerance. Can you tell me which foods have fructose so that she can avoid them?

Updated: 03-26-2011

Answer

Fructose is a sugar found naturally in fruits, honey and some syrups. Fructose is also a basic component in table sugar (sucrose), and it's used to sweeten many processed foods and beverages. In addition, sorbitol — a sugar alcohol — interferes with fructose during normal digestion and should be avoided. So if you have fructose intolerance, you should avoid foods that contain fructose and sucrose as well as sorbitol.

Avoid foods that contain:

  • Fructose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Table sugar (sucrose)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Fruit and fruit juices
  • Honey
  • Regular sodas
  • Flavored water
  • Sorbitol
  • Sports drinks
  • Sweetened milk or sweetened milk beverages

Consult a registered dietitian for a complete list of foods your daughter should eat or avoid if she has fructose intolerance. The dietitian also can help create a healthy diet plan for your daughter to make sure she gets the nutrients she needs.

The phrase "fructose intolerance" is a general term that describes two possible conditions:

  • Hereditary fructose intolerance. People with hereditary fructose intolerance, a rare genetic disorder, lack an enzyme that breaks down fructose. This serious disorder, which is usually diagnosed at a young age, can lead to liver and kidney damage.
  • Fructose malabsorption. People with fructose malabsorption have difficulty digesting fructose. This is a less serious disorder because it doesn't result in liver or kidney damage. But it can cause abdominal pain, gas, bloating and diarrhea.