If you’re worried about the effects of fat and dietary cholesterol on your heart, stop. Trans-fats are the only ones conclusively proven to be detrimental. In the meantime, there’s something just as serious to watch out for. Fructose.
The average American is getting more fructose than ever before. A study in the July 9 Medscape Journal of Medicine found that, on average, our intake of fructose increased from about 35 grams (a little over 1 ounce) per day in the late 1970s to about 55 grams (almost 2 ounces) per day now. That may not sound like much, but 2 ounces of fructose per day is almost 46 pounds a year!
That’s serious news, because fructose has a rap sheet about a mile long:
1. It increases the risk of high LDL cholesterol – which increases the risk of heart attack threefold.
2. It increases triglycerides in the blood, a strong predictor of heart disease.
3. It increases uric acid in the blood, which causes gout and increases blood pressure.
4. It stimulates appetite by affecting leptin (a hunger-suppressing hormone) and ghrelin (a hunger-stimulating hormone.)
5. It decreases adiponectin, a hormone that improves insulin sensitivity in cells.
Where are we getting all that fructose? Well, it occurs naturally in fruits and other foods, like table sugar and honey. But the popular processed sweetener high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the main culprit.
So check the labels. And avoid foods with HFCS. These include soft drinks, fruit juice drinks, fruit rolls/fruit chew-type snacks, sweetened teas, fruit smoothies, and ketchup. And limit your intake of anything with high amounts of natural fructose – like fruit juices – as well.