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Fructose May Not Deserve Such a Bad Rap After All, Researcher Argues

Dec 30, 2013 02:05 PM EST

Fructose's perceived role in the current obesity epidemic may be overblown, a new analysis published in the journal Atherosclerosis suggests.

Fructose is a simple sugar found naturally in fruit, vegetables and honey. When combined with glucose, it forms sucrose - the basis of table sugar. High-fructose corn syrup is the most common sweetener in commercially prepared foods, making it a top suspect in the fight on obesity.

According to Dr. John Sievenpiper, a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, fructose may not be totally deserving of the criticism some have hurled at it.

Sievenpiper conducted a meta-analysis of existing studies on fructose and its impact on a person's level of triglycerides after eating. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood and testing for them is becoming an increasingly common way for people to try and evaluate their risk for cardiovascular disease, though its usefulness is still debated among health officials.

The researcher determined that while an overconsumption of calories from fructose can have adverse effects on a person's health, the sugar does not itself impact a person's post-meal levels of triglycerides.

"This is more evidence that fructose has adverse effects only insofar as it contributes to excess calories," Sievenpiper said.

He then added: "Fructose doesn't behave any differently than other refined carbohydrates. The increases you see are when fructose provides extra calories."

In September, researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine reported that the fructose a person's body makes as well as the fructose one eats could be linked to the on-going obesity epidemic as well as insulin resistance.

Published in the journal Nature Communications, the report found that mice can convert glucose to fructose in their livers, and that this conversion was a key element to obesity and insulin resistance in mice fed glucose.

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