Fatty liver was thought to be solely due to over-consumption of alcohol or fats. Experts were advising abstinence from alcohol and low meat consumption to patients with fatty liver because we believed that it is the richness and lavish lifestyle that was behind the diseased organ.
But that turn out not to be true at all. Everything changed since we stared drinking sugar, including fruit juices. Now it is obvious that fatty liver is not only reserved to alcoholics, but also to those who ingest large quantities of fructose, fruit sugar.
The sweet era of fructose
Fruits are rich in fructose, a simple sugar that gives fruits their sweetness. Fructose has been strongly promoted for diabetics because unlike glucose it does not cause sugar spikes and therefore does not invoke an insulin reaction.
Fructose-sweetened products started showing up massively on the market and fructose-based sweeteners were acclaimed a healthier alternative to sugar. Fruits were always thought to be healthy, so fruit-based products started to dominate healthy kitchens.
Humans are very inventive. Within a short time we improved boring fruits and made them into concentrated bites: dried fruit bars, dried fruit snacks, fruit loops, fruit juices for kids, and then finally smoothies, “energy drinks” and “detox juices”.
We were told that fruits are not only healthy but are supposed to aid in “weight loss” because they are low in calories, satisfy sweet tooth cravings and do not raise insulin. Unfortunately products made of fruits are doing exactly the opposite.
High-fructose corn syrup gave it away
Only when high-fructose corn syrup became a media star, our eyes opened to the possibility that fructose may be as bad as or even worse than glucose. Fructose consumption got implicated in obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, gout, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, breast cancer, as well as heart disease and dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. The University of Colorado declared: “Excessive fructose intake should be considered an environmental toxin with major health implications.”
How much fructose?
A hundred years ago our consumption of fructose was less than 20g a day and mostly during summer when particular fruits were in season. Those days it wasn’t easy to kill the liver with sweetness.
Today the average North American consumes 80-100g of fructose a day and every day of the year and that’s not due to increased intake of whole fruits.
A cup of soda contains about 15 g of fructose. One medium apple contains about 9.5g fructose. Two apples that won’t even make you a cup of juice have close to 20 g of fructose. So which one has more fructose? Which one contributes more to fatty liver?
Pop healthier than juice?
Here is a strange, but sobering thought: from the perspective of fructose it looks like soda is healthier. That’s right. Fruit juice is loaded with fructose and that’s bad for the liver. Think about it when you are tempted to juice fruits into your non-palatable green veggies to give them some taste. Fruit juices and healthy do not go together.
So whether you are giving your child a box of “healthy” fruit juice for lunch or trying to improve the taste of your earthy grass-tasting kale drink you are about to compromise someone’s health regardless what the “experts”, the media, advertisements or your taste buds are telling you.
Have you fallen for agave?
If you are aware that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is bad for you then watch out for agave syrup in the “health food” isle. This “healthy” sweetener is worse than the “evil” corn syrup due to its even higher fructose content. Yet it somehow made it onto to healthy food self, waiting for the unaware consumer that are about to ruin their livers.
Here is another sobering thought: did you know that fruits frequently have higher fructose content than table sugar? Did you know that fruits can have more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup “killer”? Check the list below and make logical comparisons:
- Cherries: 45% fructose
- Banana: 50% of fructose
- Sucrose (table sugar): 50% of fructose
- Grapes: 55% fructose
- High-fructose corn syrup: 65% fructose
- Watermelon: 68% fructose
- Apple: 70% fructose
- Pear: 77% fructose
- Mango: 80% fructose
- Agave Syrup: 85% fructose
So what do you think would be safer for your liver: white sugar, high fructose corn syrup or fruit juice? Do the math. Avoid uneducated health experts and fame seeking nutrition fashionistas. They are not good for your body.
Is juice nutrition really as good as it sounds? That’s the topic of part 5