Goodbye fructose

As we get deeper into recipes that require some form of sweetener, I see too many people fall into the fructose trap.

Fructose is the stuff that makes sucrose bad. (Sucrose = glucose + fructose.) Dietary glucose is not entirely benign, but fructose is far worse. After wheat, fructose is proving to be a far worse dietary ingredient than previously thought.

Where do you find fructose? Fructose can be found in (roughly in order from worst to least):

High-fructose corn syrup
Maple syrup

I’ve been discussing fructose for a number of years on my Heart Scan Blog. Here’s a post I made from July, 2009 that discusses some of the clinical data that demonstrate the awful effects of fructose:

A carefully-conducted study by a collaborative research group at University of California-Berkeley has finally closed the lid on the fuss over fructose vs. glucose and its purported adverse effects.

The study is published in its entirety here.

Compared to glucose, fructose induced:

1) Four-fold greater intra-abdominal fat accumulation–3% increased intra-abdominal fat with glucose; 14.4% with fructose. (Intraabdominal fat is the variety that blocks insulin responses and causes diabetes and inflammation.)

2) 13.9% increase in LDL cholesterol but double the increase for Apoprotein B (an index of the number of LDL particles, similar to NMR LDL particle number).

3) 44.9% increase in small LDL, compared to 13.3% with glucose.

4) While glucose (curiously) reduced the net postprandial (after-eating) triglyceride response (area under the curve, AUC), fructose increased postprandial triglycerides 99.2%.

The authors propose that fructose specifically increases liver VLDL production, the lipoprotein particle that yields abnormal after-eating particles, increased LDL, and provides building blocks to manufacture small LDL particles. The authors also persuasively propose that fructose metabolism, unlike glucose, is not inhibited (via feedback loop) by energy intake, i.e., it’s as if you are always starving.

Add to this the data that show that fructose increases uric acid (that causes gout and may act as a coronary risk factor), induces leptin resistance, causes metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), and increases appetite, and it is clear that fructose is yet another common food additive that, along with wheat, is likely a big part of the reason Americans are fat and diabetic.

Fructose is concentrated, of course, in high-fructose corn syrup, comprising anywhere from 42-90% of total weight. Fructose also composes 50% of sucrose (table sugar). Fructose also figures prominently in many fruits; among the worst culprits are raisins (30% fructose) and honey (41% fructose).

Also, beware of low-fat or non-fat salad dressings (rich with high-fructose corn syrup), ketchup, beer, fruit drinks, fruit juices, all of which are rich sources of this exceptionally fattening, metabolism-bypassing, LDL cholesterol/small LDL/ApoB increasing compound. Ironically, this means that many low-fat foods meant to reduce cholesterol actually increase it when they contain fructose in any form.

When you hear or say “fructose,” run the other way, regardless of what the Corn Refiners Association says.

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95 Responses to Goodbye fructose

  1. Pingback: Fructose is Not Your Friend : Two Skinny Twins – One Fat Problem!

  2. Boundless says:

    I was watching an interview with Dr. Richard J. Johnson (author of “The Fat Switch”), in which he mentioned, without further comment, that the fructose in HFCS is a monosaccharide fructose, and not as molecular component of sucrose, which is a disaccharide. HFCS isn’t sucrose with some extra fructose. It’s free glucose mixed with free fructose.

    To what extent might this aggravate matters, compared to a similar fructose load from sucrose?

      • Yes, there are differences…..

      • Boundless says:

        ???? indeed.

        Where I suspect this is leading is that by inventing the process for making high fructose corn syrup (which relies on high yielding hybrid corn, much of which is GMO), Big Food may have done two things that will sound disturbingly familiar to students of WB:

        1. HFCS made sugar much more toxic to consume (due to the increased fructose, and the fact that it’s unbound fructose, and the fact the fructose has zero effect on appetite {whereas glucose is at least somewhat satiating}).

        2. HFCS dramatically reduced the cost of adding sugar to processed products, which dramatically increased the percentage of packaged foods that have added sugar, allowed existing sweetened products to use more, and frequently displaced the slightly less toxic/more satiating sucrose in that role.

        I consider HFCS to be the #2 factor (behind #1, semi-dwarf hybrid wheat) in the perfect storm of disastrous diet during the last 30 years. #3 is low-fat mania. These 3 easily account for 95% of diet-driven ailments.

  3. Alis says:

    Dear Dr, Davis,

    I became interested in “Wheat Belly” due to a problem of increasing visceral fat (disproportionate to fat accumulation on other parts of the body) and also low energy. It took me a while to get a hold of the book, so I started cutting out gluten from my diet a month before I started reading the book, without noticing any obvious change. Then I learned that commercially labeled “gluten free” items were actually unhealthy and visceral-fat provoking. I believe in avoiding processed foods and making meals from scratch, so am open to avoiding those foods and making my own. But then I read that “intermediate carbohydrates” such as quinoa, buckwheat and millet are also to be avoided in order to lose belly fat, and I was using those as a replacement (I particularly love quinoa). Maple syrup and honey were some of my favorite sweeteners, believing that if they were pure and natural they were a lot healthier than table sugar and other types of processed sweeteners. The idea of giving them up makes me sad. But when I read that fruits contain fructose and are then also a major cause of visceral fat production, I felt distressed and utterly discouraged.

    I now have the impression that pretty much the whole basis of my diet, which I believed to be healthy (together with an active lifestyle) may actually be the cause of my round belly. I try to maintain a quasi-vegetarian diet, minimizing the frequency of meat ingestion, and choosing only ethical meat and sustainable seafood when I do. I eat lots of yoghurt, fruits, vegetables, beans and gluten-free grains, choosing local and organic when possible. I’m allergic to peanuts, lactose-sensitive (milk and butter often cause me stomach pain) and can’t stand cheeses with strong smell. When I think of cutting out fruits on top of the challenges of maintaining a gluten-free diet and reducing the amount of sugar (which I thought I was already doing), I feel something pretty close to despair. My breakfasts are based on fruits (an orange, half a banana, four prunes and berries or other types of fruit mixed with yogurt, soy milk and home-made granola). I eat an apple or other fruits as a snack every afternoon. Is that really causing my belly-fat production? Are there any fruits that have a lower fat-inducing effect? Do all dried fruits increase blood sugar so much? If fruits are cut off, what could replace them with to provide the fiber needed to maintain healthy and regular bowel movements?

  4. Boundless says:

    Well, at least one “personal injury” specialist lawyer has finally discovered HFCS, and apparently hopes it’s the next settlement revenue stream. There have been several newsite articles about this guy and his case in the last couple of weeks:

    From one of the reports: “As I understand it, there are six major manufacturers of this substance in the United States, so I sued all six,” Hayes said. He even admits that it will be years before the matter is resolved, but at least it may create wider public awareness of the hazards of fructose.

    Interestingly, he seems to be soliciting individual clients, rather than multitudes for a class action.

    Tip for anyone contemplating joining the actions: Don’t.
    Just shut off the HFCS (and wheat) in the diet of the affected individual. It will be immediately effective, a lot less frustrating, and if enough of you do it, the corn refiners will get the message sooner, and right where it matters, accounts receivable.

    • Moving obesity into the legitimate ‘disease’ catagory could be instrumental in proving the above mentioned product liability lawsuit……where o ne can prove a causal connection between HFCS and a specific disease.

      While everyone needs to make a living, I think he’s less interested in the financial rewards and more interested in the public awareness…, he read WB and follows the lifestyle so I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt!

  5. Pingback: Natural Sweeteners: Clearing up the Confusion | Modern Alternative Kitchen

  6. DebT says:

    Well I just checked the healthy dark chocolate I bought yesterday. It contains raw organic agave syrup so it looks like it’s destined for the rubbish bin. Well I won’t be tempted to eat it anyway.

    My son got a very red chin and one cheek yesterday. He had 3 squares of this chocolate. I was wondering if it was the chocolate. Nothing else in it seemed bad but he started acting up again and I wondered if he had had wheat in something, maybe it was the agave.