New research suggests that high levels of fructose in the diet could impact liver health in important ways.
A recent paper describes how researchers compared the effect of adding fructose and glucose to normal and high fat diets in mice.
They found that fructose and glucose, when added to a high fat diet, affect mechanisms in the liver in opposite ways.
It appears that high levels of fructose can disrupt fat metabolism in the liver in ways that are bad for health, while high levels of glucose can improve it.
"Fructose makes the liver accumulate fat," says senior study author C. Ronald Kahn, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. "It acts almost like adding more fat to the diet," he continues.
"This contrasts the effect of adding more glucose to the diet, which promotes the liver's ability to burn fat, and, therefore, actually makes for a healthier metabolism," he adds.
Prof. Kahn is also head of Integrative Physiology and Metabolism at Joslin Diabetes Center, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
Fructose and glucose in added sugar
In their study background, the authors explain that as well as being high in fat, the typical Western diet is also high in sugar sweetened drinks.
Like increased consumption of high fat foods, higher consumption of sugar sweetened drinks has emerged as a sizeable risk factor for obesity and its complications, such as type 2 diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).