Fructose and Liver Damage

liverA new study, published last week in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that eating dietary fructose causes liver damage in monkeys.

“Is a calorie a calorie? Are they all created equal? Based on this study, we would say not,” said Kylie Kavanagh, D.V.M., assistant professor of pathology-comparative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study.

The study used monkeys in two groups over a several year period. The study was designed so that the monkeys would NOT gain weight. Both groups were fed the same number of calories, just distributed differently. One group received fructose (sugar), the other a different form of carbohydrate with equal caloric impact.

Both diets had the same amount of fat, carbohydrate and protein, but the sources were different, Kavanagh said. The high-fructose group’s diet was made from flour, butter, pork fat, eggs and fructose (the main ingredient in corn syrup), similar to what many people eat, while the control group’s diet was made from healthy complex carbohydrates and soy protein.

The results?

Not surprisingly, the animals allowed to eat as much as they wanted of the high-fructose diet gained 50 percent more weight than the control group. They developed diabetes at three times the rate of the control group and also developed hepatic steatosis, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

“What surprised us the most was how quickly the liver was affected and how extensive the damage was, especially without weight gain as a factor,” Kavanagh said. “Six weeks in monkeys is roughly equivalent to three months in humans.”

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Vegan Diets Associated with Lower Weights

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Vegan Diets Associated with Lower Weights
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People who follow vegan diets weigh less and consume more protective nutrients such as beta carotene and fiber, according to a study published in next month’s issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Researchers collected data from 71,751 participants enrolled in the Adventist Health Study 2 for five years. Participants were categorized into five dietary patterns: vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, and nonvegetarian. Those who followed nonvegetarian diets ate the most saturated fat and the least fiber, compared with the vegan group. The vegan group (defined as consuming animal products less than one time per month), consumed the most beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, and magnesium, compared with all other dietary groups. The vegan group had the lowest average body mass index (a measure of body weight adjusted for height) and the lowest prevalence of obesity, compared with those following all other dietary patterns. Levels of BMI and rates of obesity went up as animal product intake increased.

Rizzo NS, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Sabate J, Fraser GE. Nutrient profiles of vegetarian and nonvegetarian dietary patterns continuing professional education (CPE) information. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113:1610-1619.