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Triglycerides-Lowering Diet: What About Fructose?




Fructose is incorporated into triglycerides more readily than glucose circulating within the bloodstream as blood sugar.

Fructose, also known as fruit sugar (levulose) is a simple sugar twice as sweet as sucrose (table sugar). Contrary to previous claims for its superiority over glucose (blood sugar), it does not play essential part in human nutrition.

Although naturally present in fruits, fructose is also available in the form of crystals as a table sugar substitute. It is also sold commercially as high-fructose corn syrup which can contain up to 55 percent sucrose.

However, fructose can have some toxic effects on our health, especially on cardiovascular and digestive systems, as well as on our metabolism.

Fructose, especially its excessive consumption, may increase:

  • the risk of abnormal blood clotting ailments and hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • total blood cholesterol levels (it serves in part as the raw material for the synthesis of cholesterol within the body)
  • LDL-“bad” cholesterol levels, and
  • blood triglyceride levels, especially in diabetics (fructose has a greater propensity to increase serum triglycerides than glucose).

Excessive consumption of fructose may also cause:

  • fatigue, especially in persons who are fructose intolerant
  • insulin resistance, and
  • obesity.

It is estimated that up to 33 percent of persons are unable to completely absorb fructose due to fructose intolerance (also known as dietary fructose intolerance (DFI) which may cause

  • flatulence
  • intestinal cramps (abdominal pain)
  • bloating, and
  • altered bowel habits (diarrhea).

Fructose may cause the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and may be an underlying cause of some cases of IBS due to its malabsorption.

Fruit Sources of Fructose



FRUIT LIST

Fructose per 100 grams

1. Dates 32 grams/32%
2. Raisins 29.7 grams/27.9%
3. Figs 22.9 grams/22.9%
4. Prunes 12.5 grams/12.5%
5. Grapes 8.13 grams/8.13%
6. Pears 6.23 grams/6.23%
7. Cherries 6 grams/6%
8. Apples 5.9 grams/5.9%
9. Persimmon 5.56 grams/5.56%
10. Blueberry 4.97 grams/4.97%
11. Bananas 4.85 grams/4.85%
12. Kiwi Fruit 4.35 grams/4.35%
13. Watermelon 3.36 grams/3.36%
14. Plums 3.07 grams/3.07%
16. Honeydew Melon 2.96 grams/2.96%
17. Grapefruit 2.5 grams/2.5%
18. Strawberry 2.5 grams/2.5%
19. Blackberry 2.4 grams/2.4%
20. Raspberry 2.35 grams/2.35%
21. Orange 2.25 grams/2.25%
22. Pineapple 2.05 grams/2.05%
23. Cantaloupe 1.87 grams/1.87%
24. Peach 1.53 grams/1.53%
25. Nectarine 1.37 grams/1.37%
26. Apricot 0.94 gram/0.94%

As you can see, among the twenty-six popular fruits the lowest fructose content show, respectively:

  • apricots
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • and
  • cantaloupes.

Therefore, the above fruits should be your first choice of fruit in triglycerides-lowering diet, provided you have not been diagnosed with fructose intolerance.

Logical, isn't it? But not quite true.

Fruit Sources of Sucrose



FRUIT LIST

Sucrose per 100 grams

1. Papaya 30 grams/30%
2. Dates 20 grams/20%
3. Apricot 5.87 grams/5.87%
4. Pineapple 5.47 grams/5.47%
5. Nectarine 4.87 grams/4.87%
6. Peach 4.76 grams/4.76%
7. Cantaloupe 4.35 grams/4.35%
8. Orange 4.28 grams/4.38%
9. Honeydew Melon 2.48 grams/2.48%
10. Bananas 2.39 grams/2.39%
11. Apples 2.07 grams/2.07%
12. Plums 1.57 grams/1.57%
13. Persimmon 1.54 grams/1.54%
14. Watermelon 1.21 grams/1.21%

As you can see, among the fourteen popular fruits the lowest sucrose (sugar) content show, respectively:

  • watermelons
  • persimmons (juicy smooth-skinned orange-red tropical fruits that are sweet only when fully ripe) and
  • plums.

Therefore, the above fruits should be your first choice of fruit in triglycerides-lowering diet, provided you have not been diagnosed with fructose intolerance.

Logical, isn't it? But not necessarily true.

Your Choice of Fruit



Whole fruits are both a source of fructose and - sucrose, in other words, sugar. Also known as beet or cane (table) sugar, chemically it consists of glucose and - fructose.

Glucose is the only carbohydrate that actually circulates within the bloodstream (as blood sugar). It provides energy to most of the body's cells and is the preferred fuel for most cells, including the neurons of the brain (the brain utilizes 25 percent of glucose for its own “fuel” requirements).

Sugar then is a sort of "good" and "bad" guy at the same time with fruits as a perfect example. Some of them are high in fructose but at the same time low in sucrose, and vice versa.

Watermelon, for instance, is low in sucrose (1.21%) but at the same time much higher in fructose (3.36%). Apricots on the other hand are low in fructose (0.94%) but very high in sucrose (5.87%). The same applies to other low-high, fructose-sucrose fruits like persimmons, plums, nectarines, peaches and cantaloupes.

So as far as fruit consumption is concerned, the only practical solution is their limited consumption. Because fruits are a considerable source of sugar in our today's diet (already full of sugar!), their daily intake should be carefully monitored by all people, not only those whose health condition could be adversely affected by the sugar, diabetics and pre-diabetics in particular.

Like with many other things in our life, moderation is the key here, the only win-win situation. And this "rule" should be followed by everyone who is seriously concerned about his or her health.

Table of Fruits and Sugars



Although eating fresh fruits as your appetite dictates still holds for many people, if you are overweight, insulin resistant, or have elevated blood triglycerides, you should limit your intake of high-sugar fruits, such as grapes, bananas, mangos, sweet cherries, apples, pineapples, pears and kiwi fruit.

This recommendation also applies to dried fruits which contain excessive sugar. As a matter of fact, they more resemble commercial candy than their fresh counterparts.

Try to include more vegetables instead. However, some fruits, like tomatoes, avocadoes, lemons, and limes, are very low in total sugar and do not have to be restricted.

Fructose consumption is particularly problematic for people who are insulin resistant - a condition associated with metabolic syndrome X and/or type 2 diabetes. Because sucrose (table sugar) is split in the gut into its two component parts (fructose and glucose) before it enters the bloodstream, sucrose's contribution to the total dietary fructose load must be considered.

For this reason the total metabolic fructose for items below has been tabulated (in grams of sugar per 100 grams). The term "total metabolic fructose" (Tot. met. fructose) means fructose and sucrose combined.

Total sugars Glucose Galactose Fructose Sucrose  Lactose Maltose Tot. met. fructose
Fresh Fruit                
Apples 13.3 2.3   7.6 3.3     9.3
Apricots 9.3 1.6   0.7 5.2   3.1 3.3
Avocado, California 0.9 0.5   0.2 0.1     0.3
Avocado, Florida 0.9 0.5   0.2 0.1     0.3
Banana 15.6 4.2   2.7 6.5     6.0
Blackberries 8.1 3.1   4.1 0.4     4.3
Blueberries 7.3 3.5   3.6 0.2     3.7
Cantaloupe 8.7 1.2   1.8 5.4     4.5
Casaba melon 4.7           0.3 0.0
Cherries, sweet 14.6 8.1   6.2 0.2   1.3 6.3
Cherries, sour 8.1 4.2   3.3 0.5     3.6
Elderberries 7.0              
Figs 6.9 3.7   2.8 0.4     3.0
Grapefruit, pink 6.2 1.3   1.2 3.4     2.9
Grapefruit, white 6.2 1.3   1.2 3.4     2.9
Grapes 18.1 6.5 0.4 7.6     0.1 7.6
Guava 6.0 1.2   1.9 1.0   0.7 2.4
Guava, strawberry 6.0 1.2   1.9 1.0     2.4
Honeydew melon 8.2              
Jackfruit 8.4 1.4   1.4 5.4     4.1
Kiwi fruit 10.5 5.0   4.3 1.1     4.9
Lemon 2.5 1.0   0.8 0.6     1.1
Lime 0.4 0.2   0.2       0.2
Mamey Apple 6.5 1.1   3.7 1.6     4.5
Mango 14.8 0.7   2.9 9.9     7.9
Nectarine 8.5 1.2     6.2     3.1
Orange 9.2 2.2   2.5 4.2     4.6
Papaya 5.9 1.4   2.7 1.8   0.4 3.6
Peach 8.7 1.2   1.3 5.6     4.1
Pear 10.5 1.9   6.4 1.8     7.3
Pear, Bosc 10.5 1.9   6.4 1.8     7.3
Pear, D'Anjou 10.5 1.9   6.4 1.8     7.3
Pineapple 11.9 2.9   2.1 3.1     3.7
Plum 7.5 2.7   1.8 3     3.3
Pomegranate 10.1 5.0   4.7 0.4     4.9
Purple Passion Fruit or Granadilla 11.2 4.0   3.1 3.3     4.8
Raspberries 9.5 3.5   3.2 2.8   1.0 4.6
Starfruit 7.1 3.1   3.2 0.8   0.1 3.6
Strawberries 5.8 2.2   2.5 1.0     3.0
Tangerine 7.7              
Tomato 2.8 1.1   1.4       1.4
Watermelon 9.0 1.6   3.3 3.6     5.1
Dried Fruit                
Dates 64.2       44.6     22.3
Dried apricots 38.9 20.3   12.2 6.4     15.4
Dried figs 62.3 26.9 3.9 24.4 6.1     27.5
Dried mango 73.0              
Dried papaya 53.5              
Dried peaches 44.6 15.8   15.6 13.2     22.2
Dried pears 49.0              
Dried prunes 44.0 28.7   14.8 0.5     15.1
Raisins 65.0 31.2   33.8       33.8
Raisins, Golden 70.6 32.7   37.1 0.8     37.5
Zante currants 70.6 32.7   37.1 0.8     37.5
Pure sugars                
Sucrose (table sugar) 97.0       97.0     48.5
Maple sugar 85.2 4.3   4.3 75.0     41.8
Honey 81.9 33.8   42.4 1.5   4.2 43.2
High fructose corn syrup (42%) 71.0 36.9   29.8     2.1 29.8
High fructose corn syrup (55%) 77.0 30.8   42.4     2.3 42.4
High fructose corn syrup (90%) 80.0 7.2   72       72.0
Molasses 60.0 11.2   12.9 34.7     30.3
Sorghum syrup 65.7       33.5      
Brown sugar 89.7 5.2     84.1     42.1
Candy                
M & M chocolate candy 64.7       54.9 7.6   27.5
Lifesavers 66.5       66.5     33.3
Hard candy 62.3       66.7     33.4
Bit O Honey 42.4 5.0   0.5 27.0 2.5 5.0 14.0
Almond Joy 44.9              
Baby Ruth 42.0              
Butterfinger 48.8              
Caramello Candy Bar 54.2              
Nestles Crunch Candy Bar 52.4     0.2 45.1 6.8   22.8
Nestles 100 Grand Candy Bar 63.5              
Nestles Raisinets 62.5              
Reeses Pieces 50.0              
Skittles 76.4              
Nestles Plain Milk Chocolate Candy Bar 51.0              
Hershey's Kisses 50.0              
Sugar babies 72.9              
Milk Duds 50.0              
Junior Mints 82.2              


Source: Fruit and Sugar Content: The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

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