Fructose: The good guy or the bad guy?

Nutrition

By pH health care professionals

There are different types of sugars – your table sugar, corn sugars, and then there’s fructose. Fructose is found mostly in fruits and vegetables as well as honey and agave nectar. Fruits and veggies that are high in fructose include apples, grapes, watermelons, asparagus, peas and zucchini. And fruits and veggies that are low in fructose include bananas, blueberries, strawberries, carrots, avocados, green beans and lettuce.

In today’s modern diet, fructose is also found in processed foods with high fructose corn syrup (an alternative sweetener to table sugar that includes a mixture of fructose and glucose) and sweet beverages like soft drinks and juices.

As sugar consumption has risen over the last few decades, so has the concern about the health implications of eating too much.

So is fructose to blame for obesity and diabetes?  

While numerous studies have examined fructose and its health effects, the findings are overall inconclusive and contradictory.

Some research has examined a link between high fructose intake and metabolic syndrome, finding that fructose makes you eat more calories, and you end up gaining weight.

However, a 2010 evidence-based review noted that no prior studies had simply looked at healthy, normal-weight people eating fructose in a normal (non-excessive) dietary manner. This analysis of existing studies showed that fructose does not generally cause changes in triglycerides or body weight when consumed at appropriate levels.

2013study followed suit, also examining the effects of moderate fructose consumption on healthy, normal-weight people (this one specifically on males ages 21-25). In this study, participants consumed sweetened beverages. Researchers concluded that moderate fructose intake can interfere with insulin sensitivity and can lead to an increase in cholesterol and triglycerides.

But not all fructose is created equal! Part of the problem may be where people are getting their fructose, with most Americans getting a good percentage of fructose from sweetened beverages like sodas. Drinking these sweetened beverages has been associated with consuming too many calories, leading to an increase in body weight and therefore an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

However, when consuming fructose from whole foods such as fruits, a 2013 study shows the opposite is true. Instead of consuming excessive calories, increased fruit consumption is tied to a lower body weight and lower risk of obesity-related diseases.

Start with small steps to gradually reduce the amount of sugar in your diet from processed foods, and get your sweet fix from organic fruits (free of pesticides).

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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