(NaturalNews) We've all heard about the dangers of eating too much sugar. Recently further evidence has come to light that demonstrates there is a specific component of sugar responsible for these dangers: fructose.
What is Fructose?
Fructose is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar. Refined cane sugar is essentially half fructose and half glucose. High fructose corn syrup is about 55 percent fructose.
What Makes Fructose So Dangerous?
Fructose and glucose are metabolized in two very different ways. Glucose is absorbed directly and mostly used for energy by cells throughout the body. Fructose, however, is processed in the liver and is generally converted into VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglycerides.
There are genuine concerns that fructose contributes to health problems like increased inflammation, high blood pressure, excess uric acid, high triglycerides and high VLDL cholesterol. Fructose also contributes to fatty liver deposits much in the same way alcohol does.
Another problem with fructose is that it doesn't signal the body's satiety mechanisms. In particular, fructose does not stimulate the release of leptin, an important hormone in appetite control as well as other important metabolic processes. Over time this can also lead to insulin resistance and eventually diabetes.
Because fructose does not directly stimulate the release of insulin, many people assume it is a safe sweetener. However, since it affects biochemical systems in a way that can eventually induce insulin resistance, it is actually quite harmful.
What About the Fructose in Fruit?
It's true that fructose is a fruit sugar, but consuming refined sugar products is not the same as consuming whole fruits. Fruits have protective factors that may counter the risks of consuming fructose, such as fiber and antioxidants. Fruits also contain nourishing vitamins and minerals that many of us are lacking.
Fruit juices, however, contain massive amounts of fructose in a form that can be ingested very quickly. Commercial fruit juices should be avoided altogether. Some experts even say fruit juice is as damaging as commercial soda beverages because of the way it affects the body.
Keep in mind that fructose consumption does not have to be kept at zero. Before the last century, fructose consumption was somewhere around 15 grams per day. Some experts suggest an intake below 25 grams per day is relatively safe. Today the average fructose consumption is more than 70 grams per day. So in reality it's not the fructose that's harming our health, but the chronic over consumption of it. Moderation, as always, is key.
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Stanhope KL, Schwarz JM, Keim NL, Griffen SC, Bremer AA, Graham JL, Hatcher B, Cox CL, Dyachenko A, Zhang W, McGahan JP, Seibert A, Krauss RM, Chiu S, Schaefer EJ, Ai M, Otokozawa S, Nakajima K, Nakano T, Beysen C, Hellerstein MK, Berglund L and Havel PJ. "Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans," J Clin Invest. 2009; 119(5):1322-1334
About the author
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...