Beware of Fructose

by D.C. Tworek, CPT, Bachelor of Science Nutrition

The February 2012 issue of “The Journal of Nutrition” published a report stating that fructose consumption may increase the risk of cardiovascular events due the an increase in visceral fat. Visceral fat is the type of fat that accumulates around your internal organs – regardless if you are fat or skinny on the outside, visceral fat lurks beneath the surface and can do some serious damage. But of course, fructose is hard to avoid. High fructose corn syrup is in everything from processed sweets and sodas to white and whole wheat bread.  If you are someone who prefers fruit over vegetables, monitor your intake – fruits, although healthy – are high in fructose.  If you are amongst the millions that reach for the convenience of fruit juice, heed this warning, fruit juice is concentrated with fructose and often has high fructose corn syrup as well.

The subjects of the research were 559 14 to 18 year olds in Georgia. Body Mass index, exercise habits, fat mass and a 24-hour diet recall was recorded.  Researchers soon discovered that subjects who consumed a higher content of fructose experienced increased systolic blood pressure, signs of systemic inflammation, visceral fat and reduced levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. These are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Experts say to proceed with caution when it comes to fructose.  It is hard to cut out of your diet entirely, but if it is contributing to more than 16 percent of your daily intake, you may want to reconsider your eating habits. If you love fruit, consider choosing berries, apples and fruits that contain a “pit” – these have lower content of fructose. Avoid over-consuming sugary sweet fruits, like bananas, pineapple and watermelon.Researchers made efforts to control for visceral fat and discovered that fructose alone does not contribute to these other factors.  In other words, fructose contributes to visceral fat, and visceral fat contributes to the cardiovascular risk factors.


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