The average American consumes a whopping 76 pounds of sugar every year, which is wreaking havoc on our health by increasing the risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. More and more research shows that the negative health effects of all this sugar are attributable to fructose. High fructose corn syrup is about 55% fructose. White sugar, and even the best natural substitutes for sugar – like honey and maple syrup – all break down in your body to 50% fructose. Some diabetic or low-glycemic products are sweetened with fructose, since it has minimal effect on blood sugar levels. Fruit and fruit juice also contain varying amounts of fructose.
The negative health effects of fructose include:
- Increase in belly fat, especially fat around your abdominal organs, including the liver. This is the most detrimental type of body fat.
- Increased triglycerides.
- Increased cholesterol levels.
- Insulin resistance, which can be the first step on the path to type 2 diabetes.
- May promote high blood pressure by raising uric acid levels.
The biggest source of fructose intake for many people is drinking soda and other sugar or high fructose corn syrup-sweetened drinks, like sports drinks, sweetened teas and juice drinks. Desserts like cakes, cookies, pies, and ice cream as well as sweetened non-dessert foods like yogurt, granola bars, and cold cereals are other big sources of added sugar.
It’s important to note that just because a dessert is gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or vegan doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. Any kind of dessert should be a treat eaten on special occasions, not every day. Remember that any beverage or dessert sweetened with sugar contains almost as much fructose as one sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.
How to break your sugar habit and limit your intake of fructose:
- Don’t drink soda or any sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit desserts to special occasions, not every day.
- Avoid any low glycemic or diabetic foods that are sweetened with fructose.
- Avoid non-dessert foods like that have added sugar like yogurts, cold cereals, and granola bars. Eat unsweetened varieties instead or sweeten foods yourself with a small amount of maple syrup or honey.
- Limit your use of agave nectar, as it contain at least 80% fructose!
- Don’t drink fruit juice.
- Limit your fruit intake to 2-3 servings/day. You are much better off eating lots of vegetables, which don’t contain fructose.