13 August, 2007
I can give you plenty of good reasons to avoid fructose,
but all you need is one: type 2 diabetes.
A new study highlights diabetes and all the other key reasons why
it's a healthy idea to avoid this truly awful component of processed
foods and soft drinks.
Going back to the garden
When I read that researchers at the University of California, Davis
(UCD), recently presented a new fructose study at the American Diabetes
Association 67th Annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago, something
rang a bell. That ringing came from nearly five years ago, in the
e-Alert "Back to the Garden" (11/19/02), where I told
you about a UCD study from some of the same researchers who mounted
this new study.
The '02 UCD study reported on animal testing that showed how fructose
consumption contributed to insulin resistance, high blood pressure,
and elevated triglyceride levels - three of the core symptoms of
metabolic syndrome. Other metabolic syndrome symptoms include excessive
abdominal fat, high C-reactive protein level, and low HDL cholesterol.
Three or more of these symptoms put a patient at high risk of developing
type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In the conclusions to their '02 study, the UCD team noted that
a high intake of fructose might increase body weight and encourage
insulin resistance. Five years later, a study of human subjects
confirms those conclusions.
The UCD researchers began by giving a series of tests to assess
heart disease risk in 23 overweight adults, aged 43 to 70.
For two weeks, each subject ate a strict diet that consisted of
30 percent fat, and 55 percent complex carbohydrates
After the first phase was complete, subjects were allowed to eat
whatever they liked for eight weeks, along with three sweetened
beverages each day that supplied a quarter of their energy intake
- about half the group drank a glucose beverage while the other
half drank a fructose beverage
After the second phase was complete, subjects returned to the 30/55
diet while continuing with their daily drinks
Throughout the study, further checks of heart disease indicators
occurred at two, eight, and 10 weeks
Results showed that just two weeks after subjects began drinking
sweetened drinks, triglyceride levels were up in the fructose group,
but had actually dropped in the glucose group. Over the entire range
of the study, LDL cholesterol increased and insulin sensitivity
decreased in the fructose group but didn't change in the glucose
group. In addition, fructose subjects gained about three pounds
overall, but no weight gain was reported in the glucose group.
A fructose by any other name...
UCD researcher, Peter J. Havel, Ph.D. (who participated in both
the 2002 and 2007 studies), told WebMD Medical News that most people
get added sugars in their diet from daily beverages - which tends
to be a lifelong habit, far exceeding the two weeks in which fructose
quickly had an adverse effect on triglycerides.
So what exactly is in that vast array of choices in the beverage
Checking the ingredients of your soft drink, sports tea, vitamin
water, power drink, etc., you might wonder what the difference is
between fructose, high fructose corn syrup, and crystalline fructose.
Is one better than the other? Well...put it this way: If only part
of your house is on fire, your house is still on fire.
The average high fructose corn syrup is made up of about 50 percent
fructose. But according to the Sugar Association (sugar.org), increased
fructose content of HFCS is becoming more common. Some of these
syrups contain more than 90 percent fructose.
And then there's crystalline fructose that's present in many "health"
drinks and vitamin-enhanced beverages. But does the process of crystallizing
magically transform fructose into something healthy? Let's look
at the contents. According to the Fructose Information Center (fructose.org),
crystalline fructose contains nearly 100 percent fructose. And just
to make it even less appealing, it contains traces of lead, chloride,
and arsenic. Yum! And keep in mind this information comes from an
association that ADVOCATES fructose use and consumption.
All of this is very bad news for those who are fructose intolerant
and don't even know it. They may suffer from chronic problems such
as irritable bowel syndrome without making the connection between
their condition and their fructose intake. You can find more information
in the e-Alert "Reversal of Fortune" (10/29/03), at this