A new report shows that all sugars are not equal — especially when it comes to the effect they have on your body.
Health experts once thought that fructose was a healthier form of sugar because it is found naturally in many foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. But researchers at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute have found that fructose may be even unhealthier than other forms of sugar when it is added to foods.
The study, which was published recently in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, concluded that fructose consumption disturbs the body's metabolism and increases insulin resistance. Researchers found that when compared with other sugars — such as glucose or starch — fructose causes an increase in fasting insulin levels and fasting glucose levels.
Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine suggest that adults limit their added sugar intake to 25 percent of total daily calories. However, the authors of this study argue that this number is too high, and it is the consumption of these added sugars, particular fructose and sucrose (the combination of fructose and sugar) that is driving America's diabetes epidemic.
"At current levels, added-sugar consumption, and added-fructose consumption in particular, are fueling a worsening epidemic of type 2 diabetes," said the study's lead author James DiNicolantonio.
In the U.S., the numbers are already alarming. Roughly 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 86 million have prediabetes. That works out to about 40 percent of American adults who struggle with some degree of insulin resistance.
So how can you make sure you don't get swept up in the trend? Researchers argue that consumers need to be more vigilant about the added sugars they consume. And considering 75 percent of the products on store shelves contain some form of added sugar, that is no easy task. But by avoiding sweetened beverages and processed and packaged foods, you are more likely to slash the added sugars and cut your sugar consumption to those that are found naturally — and in much lower quantities — in fruits and vegetables.
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