Study: Sugars Not All the Same When It Comes to Overeating

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • My parents always have had a sweet tooth, whereas I could really care less whether I had dessert or not. If I had a choice of a piece of chocolate cake or a piece of cheese, I’d select the cheese. But not my parents – they both craved a piece of cake or a cookie. However one area that I craved for quite a while, was sugary carbonated beverages.  And despite our differences in the specific foods and beverages that we craved, my parents and I may have had a similar urge – to consume more fructose. And a new study suggests that similarity may have had an effect on our brains’ ability to turn off hunger cravings.

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    Researchers out of Yale University used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests on 20 healthy study participants, all of whom were adults and were of normal weight, to see how their brains reacted to eating foods that were high in glucose or fructose. These scans showed that when people consumed a 75-g preparation of pure glucose, hormones that have a role in satiety (helping you feel fuller so you don’t want more food) were high. However, the participants showed lower increases in these hormones when they consumed a 75-g preparation of pure fructose.


    Although this is a small study, it does add evidence that fructose, a sugar that is found in many foods that are regularly part of the American diet, may cause changes in the brain that are tied to overeating. And fructose’s cousin – high-fructose corn syrup – has been linked to negative health consequences, such as type-2 diabetes.


    “The major new finding reported by Page et al is that the hypothalamic brain signal generated in response to fructose ingestion was statistically different from the response following glucose ingestion,” wrote Dr. Jonathan Purnell and Dr. Damien Fair of Oregon Health and Science University in an editorial accompanying the publication of this new research study. “The directionality of the difference is not as important as the fact that a difference was found and is accompanied by an increased sensation of fullness and satiety after glucose, but not fructose, consumption.”


    A story by the Association Press noted that the next phase involves researchers testing obese people to see if they have the same reactions to fructose and glucose as the participants in this study, who were of normal weigh, did.


    So what foods are highest in fructose? According to Self’s NutritionData, the top foods that are high in fructose include caffeinated carbonated cola beverages, decaffeinated carbonated cola beverages, caffeinated carbonated lemon-lime soda, and canned unsweetened applesauce. Livestrong.com also adds that other foods high in fructose include many fresh fruits (agave, apples, bananas, grapes, citrus fruits, pears, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, blueberries, raspberries, huckleberries and blackberries), dry fruit (figs, dates, pineapple, apples and raisins), baby foods containing fruit, fruit drinks and juices (cranberry drink, agave juice, apple juice, pear juice grape juice, mango juice, pomegranate juice, orange juice and grapefruit juice), and processed foods (ketchup and condiments, soups, sweet pickles, frozen foods, boxed breakfast cereals, canned foods, boxed dinners, breads, crackers, cakes, brownies, pies, energy bars, cookies, croissants and doughnuts).


  • And what foods contain high-fructose corn syrup? HuffingtonPost reports these foods include yogurt, bread, cereal bars, frozen pizza, packaged macaroni & cheese, cocktail peanuts (such as honey roasted peanuts), tonic water, salad dressing, canned fruit, applesauce, ketchup, and fruit preserves.

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    And what foods have glucose? Here’s the list, according to Livestrong.com: starchy foods (grains, potatoes and beans), fruit and foods sweetened with table sugar, corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup. However, please note that these foods aren’t necessarily a great regular addition to your diet. “Foods that break down slowly possess minimal amounts of glucose or blood sugar,” Livestrong notes. People who have diabetes and hyperglycemia really need to avoid having high-glucose foods in their diet.


    So what should you do? Here are some suggestions:

    • Read product labels. By doing this, you can avoid foods that contain fructose and high-fructose corn syrup. Try to avoid packaged foods that have glucose or fructose listed in the top three ingredients for that food. Also when reading product labels, try to make sure that the amount of sugar is no more than 10 grams per serving.
    • Limit your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
    • Cook more of your meals at home so you can avoid these types of foods.


    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:


    Hendrickson, K. (2010). List of glucose foods. Livestrong.com.


    Huffington Post. (2012). Corn syrup in unexpected foods.


    Marchione, M. & Stobbe, M. (2012). Fructose may spur overeating. Associated Press.


    MedlinePlus. (2013). Is fructose making people fat? U.S. National Library of Medicine.


    Page, K. A. (2013). Effects of fructose vs glucose on regional cerebral blood flow in brain regions involved with appetite and reward pathways. The Journal of the American Medical Association.


    Purnell, J. Q., & Fair, D. A. (2013). Fructose ingestion and cerebral, metabolic, and satiety responses. The Journal of the American Medical Association.


    Self Nutrition Data. (nd). Foods highest in fructose.


    Taylor, K. (2010). Foods highest in glucose. Livestrong.com.


    Welch, C. (2011). List of foods high in fructose. Livestrong.com.

Published On: January 03, 2013