High Intake of Fructose Does Not Differentially Affect Health as Compared to Lower Intake Levels

According to a recent study, a high consumption level of fructose does not lead to high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

In the study, the researchers considered three different intake levels of added sugar, including fructose:

  • 8% of calories (which is the upper level recommendation from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the World Health Organization (WHO)),
  • 18% of calories (which is around the average American consumption), and
  • 30% of calories (which is around the upper limit recommended by the Institute of Health (IOM) and 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA)).

These levels represent the 25th, 50th and 90th percentile population consumption levels for fructose, respectively.

The 10-week study included 355 participants who were normal weight, overweight and obese, and who were randomized to one of the six consumption level groups: 8% high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), 8% sucrose (table sugar), 18% HFCS, 18% sucrose, 30% HFCS and 30% sucrose. Height and weight were measured before the start of the study and blood samples were taken to measure different factors, such as glucose and fat levels. Over the 10 weeks, participants consumed milk sweetened for their respective group each day, but were instructed not to change other aspects of their diet.

Results of the study showed that participants in each group gained weight and had increases in fat mass and waist circumference. However, there was not a significant difference between those consuming the 25th percentile of HFCS or sucrose and those consuming at the 90th percentile for HFCS or sucrose. Additionally, there were no significant differences in the triglyceride or glucose levels of any of the groups.

The researchers concluded that, β€œThese findings confirmed our hypothesis that consumption of sugars up to the 90th percentile population consumption level does not adversely impact cholesterol, LDL, blood pressure or glucose in the context of a well-designed, supervised, mixed nutrient diet program.” They added, β€œTo our knowledge, this is the first attempt to examine the metabolic impacts of this range of sugar and, more specifically, fructose consumption levels through normally consumed sugars amongst individuals in a free living environment.”

Lowndes J, Sinnett S, Yu Z, Rippe J. The effects of fructose-containing sugars on weight, body composition and cardiometabolic risk factors when consumed at up to the 90th percentile population consumption level for fructose. Nutrients, 2014; 6: 3153-3168.