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High-Fructose Corn Syrup Not As Evil As Public Thinks, Study Finds

Last updated Oct. 1, 2015

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Researchers found that when portion sizes and calories are the same, fructose does not cause any more harm to the body than glucose.

A new study from St. Michael’s Hospital reported that there is no benefit in replacing fructose to glucose in commercially prepared foods. Published in Current Opinion in Lipidology, researchers found that when portion sizes and calories are the same, fructose does not cause any more harm to the body than glucose.

“Despite concerns about fructose’s link to obesity, there is no justification to replace fructose with glucose, because there is no evidence of net harm,” said Dr. John Sievenpiper, a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael’s.

Fructose is a simple sugar found in honey and many fruits and vegetables. Fructose is also the basis of high-fructose corn syrup – a sweetener often found in commercially prepared foods and drinks. Table sugar is sucrose – a type of sugar that contains an equal amount of both glucose and fructose.

Dr. Sievenpiper and his team used data from previous research exams to compare the effects of fructose and glucose against several health risk factors. The study concluded that consuming fructose may increase total cholesterol and postprandial (after meal) triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood. However, fructose did not show to have any negative effects on insulin production, other fat levels in the bloodstream, or markers of fatty liver disease any more than glucose did. Actually, fructose showed potential benefits over glucose in several key risk factor categories.

"Some health care analysts have thought fructose to be the cause of obesity because it's metabolized differently than glucose," said Dr. Sievenpiper. "In calorie-matched conditions, we found that fructose may actually be better at promoting a healthy body weight, blood pressure and glycemic control than glucose."

Dr. Sievenpiper believes that over-consumption of sugar in general, rather than the type of sugar, is the leading one of the leading causes of obesity.

"Overall, it's not about swapping fructose with glucose," said Dr. Sievenpiper. "Overeating, portion size and calories are what we should be refocusing on - they're our biggest problems."

Additional Resource:

Fructose vs. glucose and metabolism: do the metabolic differences matter?

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Feb. 5, 2014
Last updated: Oct. 1, 2015