The harmful effects of fructose have recently gained a lot of attention. Fructose is a type of sugar found in fruits, vegetables and honey. Our body does not produce fructose; it is derived from what we eat which is then metabolized by the liver. Excess fructose in the body gets converted into fat. Fructose is mostly consumed as a sweetener like the high-fructose corn syrup that is added to food and fizzy drinks. (The Bittersweet Truth - High Fructose Corn Syrup)
According to a latest report, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, consumption of foods and beverages containing added sugars, particularly added fructose, is a major factor behind the dramatic rise in type-2 diabetes.
The diabetes epidemic is slowly sweeping the world. Approximately one in ten adults has type 2 diabetes, with the number of individuals afflicted by the disease across the globe more than doubling from 153 million in 1980 to 347 million in 2008. "At current levels, added-sugar consumption, and added-fructose consumption in particularly, are fueling a worsening epidemic of type 2 diabetes," says lead author James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in the US.
During the study, researchers tried to determine whether certain ingredients increase the risk of diabetes and the fact that not all calories are equal. They examined the effects of carbohydrates from starch, pure glucose and lactose, sucrose (table sugar) and fructose.
It was found that the harmful effects of fructose where the most damaging. "The totality of the evidence is compelling to suggest that added sugar, and especially added fructose (usually in the form of high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar), are a serious and growing public health problem," the authors noted. Fructose was linked to worsening insulin levels and glucose tolerance. Excess fructose in the body leads to harmful storage of fat which may fuel several conditions like inflammation, high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and diabetes. The study indicates that calories from sugar are much more harmful.
Experts also pointed out that fructose which is naturally found is fruits and vegetables does not pose any harmful effects. In fact, consuming fruits and vegetables is likely to protect you against diabetes and broader cardiometabolic dysfunction. They propose that dietary guidelines should be modified to encourage individuals to replace processed foods, laden with added sugars and fructose, with whole foods like fruits and vegetables. The World Health Organization has proposed that added sugar should make up only 5% of your daily calories.