The Low-Fat, High-Fructose Blunder

Dr. William Davis Health Pro
  • It was yet another mistake of the low-fat era.


    The low-fat dietary mistake of the last 40 years spawned more than its share of nutritional disasters. Along with cutting essential fats (like omega-3s and monounsaturates), low-fat dietary advice helped spawn:

    • Hydrogenated ("trans") fats
    • Low-fat, high-sugar foods bearing "heart healthy" labels
    • The "healthy whole grain" debacle
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
    • Inflammation
    • Countless people frustrated with their lives, appearance, and health

    One of the perverse phenomena generated by the low-fat mistake was the wild proliferation of fructose in foods. High-fructose corn syrup, in particular, has worked its way into literally thousands of foods, from bread and beer, to ketchup and spaghetti sauce, even pickles. If it has a label, it probably has high-fructose corn syrup added. It has come to occupy a place in the majority of processed foods that populate your grocery store's shelves.

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    While research has been accumulating that document the adverse health effects of fructose, a carefully-conducted collaborative research study conducted by a University of California-Berkeley group has finally closed the lid on the fructose question.


    Compared to glucose, fructose induced:


    1) Four-fold greater intra-abdominal fat accumulation¾3% 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. It also  doubled Apoprotein B (an index of the number of LDL particles).


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


    4) While glucose (curiously) reduced the net postprandial (after-eating) triglyceride response, fructose increased postprandial triglycerides an incredible 99.2%.


    The authors 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 in high-fructose corn syrup, comprising anywhere from 42-90% of total weight. Fructose is also half of sucrose (table sugar); thus, table sugar can be expected to yield many of the same effects. Fructose is also fruit sugar; among the worst culprits are raisins (30% fructose) and honey (41% fructose).


    Beware of low-fat or non-fat salad dressings, most of which are rich with high-fructose corn syrup; ketchup; beer; fruit drinks and fruit juices. Ironically, this means that many low-fat foods meant to reduce cholesterol actually increase it when they contain fructose in any form.


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    For overall health, we are all better off minimizing our exposure to this metabolism-disrupting sugar.


Published On: July 15, 2009