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Researchers say fructose does not impact emerging indicator for cardiovascular disease

By Leslie Shepherd - Fructose, the sugar often blamed for the obesity epidemic, does not itself have any impact on an emerging marker for the risk of cardiovascular disease known as postprandial triglycerides, new research has found.

Dr. John Sievenpiper

Dr. John Sievenpiper

However, overconsumption of calories from fructose can have substantial adverse effects on health, said Dr. John Sievenpiper, a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael’s Hospital.

“This is more evidence that fructose has adverse effects only insofar as it contributes to excess calories,” said Dr. Sievenpiper.

Fructose, which is naturally found in fruit, vegetables and honey, is a simple sugar that together with glucose forms sucrose, the basis of table sugar. It is also found in high-fructose corn syrup, the most common sweetener in commercially prepared foods.

Dr. Sievenpiper conducted a meta-analysis of existing studies on fructose and its impact on the level of triglycerides, a fat found in blood, after eating. Testing for these triglycerides—in addition to the standard testing for blood glucose levels—is becoming more common for people trying to determine their risk for cardiovascular disease, although health care professionals remain divided on its usefulness.

Dr. Sievenpiper’s results appear in the January 2014 issue of the journal Atheroclerosis.

“Fructose doesn’t behave any differently than other refined carbohydrates,” he said. “The increases you see are when fructose provides extra calories.” This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Calorie Control Council.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media contacts

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Sievenpiper, contact:

Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Strategy
416-864-6094

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