Fructose has come to have a villainous reputation in the food industry. There are plenty who claim fructose can independently lead to weight gain, fatty liver, or even chronic conditions like diabetes; but is it warranted? Fruit naturally contains small amounts of fructose. For this reason, many people have begun to avoid eating fruit. Is cutting out fruit an appropriate strategy to avoid high fructose intake?
Studies have evaluated the effects of fructose on body weight as well as many chronic diseases. To clarify the effects of fructose on human metabolism, large doses of fructose are used (more than 150g a day in some studies). These can be as much as 25% of total calories, more than half of your total daily carbohydrate needs from added sugars! These doses demonstrate that visceral fat accumulation and insulin resistance in the liver may be some effects of prolonged high fructose, high calorie diets. However, the doses in these studies would be nearly impossible to reach with fruit as the source of fructose. One study cited that to reach the high fructose concentrations by consuming only fruit sources, one would need to eat multiple pounds of the highest fructose containing fruits dailiy.1 These conditions are not likely to be met in the average diet. In fact, less than 20% of all fructose consumed in the United States comes from fruit sources.1 Fruits also contain many beneficial compounds can improve our health, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber.1 These compounds help to regulate blood sugar and aid in healthy metabolism. When consumed in proper amounts in conjunction with a balanced diet, fruit provides many health benefits and minimal fructose.
Fruit is so much more than just a source of fructose. Eliminating fruit from your diet does not eliminate a major source of fructose. If you are concerned about your fructose intake, work on eliminating added sugars like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, or other sweeteners. These added sugars cause weight gain, weakened blood sugar control, and can contribute to high triglycerides in the blood. We should direct our attention to the quality of the carbohydrates we consume and work to minimize the foods that contain added sugars.
Weichselbaum E. Fruit makes you fat?. Nutrition Bulletin [serial online]. December 2008;33(4):343-346. Available from: Food Science Source, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 29, 2016.
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