A high fructose diet, such as consuming more than 100 grams per day, can cause negative effects on the body, which can lead to metabolic disorders and weight gain.
According to the majority of evidence, a small amount of fructose (between 0 and 80 grams per day) does not cause any significant health hazards. Furthermore, a meta-analysis, based on pure fructose excluding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), even showed benefits such as improved HbA1c levels when fructose intake was less than 90 grams.
However, there is no doubt that fructose is bad for you when consumed in large amounts, which may cause negative effects on the body, leading to metabolic disorders and weight gain. According to a meta-analysis, more than 100 grams of fructose per day causes these negative effects.
HFCS is a processed form of fructose generated from corn that is used as a sweetener in various processed foods and sodas in the United States. These sweeteners are considered unhealthy because they contain a high amount of fructose, which even just one serving of food containing HFCS may exceed your daily limit of fructose intake. Soft drinks sweetened with this sort of sugar are rich in calories, and studies have suggested that fructose is linked to obesity.
What is fructose?
Fructose, also known as fruit sugar, is a type of sugar naturally found in all types of fruits, table sugar (sucrose), some vegetables and honey.
Fruits may contain fructose, but they are low in calories and have a lot of fiber. Even then, consuming fruits doesn’t harm the body the way high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) does because, comparatively, fruits contain fewer amounts of it.
Fructose, like glucose, is a simple carbohydrate (called monosaccharides). However, fructose is structurally different from glucose, so the body reacts to them differently and metabolizes them differently. Fructose also has different chemical properties compared with glucose. Fructose is metabolized by the liver, so the liver may get overloaded with it after excess consumption of high-fructose foods. The liver converts fructose into fat, which increases fat deposits in the body.
Fructose and glucose are sources of energy for the body. They combine to form table sugar or sucrose. A major part of fructose is burned to produce energy for the body. Some of it is converted to glucose for further metabolism, while other portions are converted to lactate and excreted by the liver. A very small percent is converted to fats and gets deposited in the body.
What are high fructose fruits?
|Fruit||Serving size||Grams of fructose|
|Figs, dried||1 cup||23.0|
|Apricots, dried||1 cup||16.4|
|Grapes, seedless (green or red)||1 cup||12.4|
|Watermelon||1/16 medium melon||11.3|
|Apple (composite)||1 medium||9.5|
What are the harmful effects of fructose on the body?
According to one study, consuming 255 grams of fructose per day increased liver fat and reduced insulin sensitivity. However, similar results were obtained when 255 grams of plain glucose was consumed, showing that it’s not just fructose that’s the problem.
Excess fructose consumption in the form of added sugars has many negative effects on the body, which includes:
Resistance to hunger hormones:
- Ghrelin is a hunger hormone that provokes appetite, and leptin is a hormone that inhibits hunger, regulates energy and reduces fat storage.
- Excess fructose increases ghrelin levels leading to increased appetite and causes resistance to leptin hormone disturbing body fat regulation.
- Either way, the person feels the urge to eat more, resulting in weight gain and increased fat deposits.
- Deposition of fat in the liver leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Addiction to sweets:
- It is believed that fructose may lead to addiction to sweet food.
- Glucose activates the reward circuits in the brain, increasing sugar cravings throughout the day.
Increased risk of weight gain and obesity:
- It is believed that excess intake of fructose may increase the risk of weight gain.
- It stimulates hunger and fat deposition in the body.
- Consuming foods rich in fructose causes insulin resistance.
- This increases the risk of diabetes and heart diseases.
- Therefore, people with diabetes should avoid foods that contain a high amount of added fructose.
Increase in bad cholesterol:
- It is known that consuming excess fructose-containing foods can cause lipid imbalance in the blood.
- It increases the levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein [LDL] and very-low-density lipoprotein [VLDL] cholesterol) and triglycerides that are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Increase in uric acid:
- Consumption of excess fructose may increase the levels of uric acid in the blood, leading to gout, heart diseases, kidney diseases and high blood pressure.
To avoid bad effects on the body, you should eat fresh and natural meals. Negative effects of fructose apply to a diet that is high in calories and sugar. Natural sugars present in fruits and vegetables are not included.
It’s worth mentioning that not all of this has been proven in scientific studies. However, the evidence remains, and additional research will be conducted in the coming years to present a fuller picture.
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Medically Reviewed on 8/26/2021
Is Fructose Actually Bad For You? 5 Truths You Need To Know: https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/5-things-to-know-about-fructose
Fructose consumption and consequences for glycation, plasma triacylglycerol, and body weight: meta-analyses and meta-regression models of intervention studies: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/88/5/1419/4648852