I just got back from an Oral Presentation that I think is good "food for thought". This abstract presentation was about a study comparing the addition of 25% of calories to the diet in the form of either a fructose or a glucose sweetened beverage. The study lasted for 8 weeks (which is longer than some previous studies on the subject). Twenty-five percent seems like a large portion of calories from sugars, but there's some current data showing that Americans between the ages of 18 and 40 consume 13-20% of calories from sugars, so this is not an unrealistic amount to investigate. The results were consistent with previous shorter term studies that increased intake of fructose is associated with an atherogenic lipid profile. In other words, eating fructose, increases your bad lipid (cholesterol) levels, increasing the risk for heart disease.
Most people think of fructose as "fruit sugar". And this is true, the natural sweetness in fruit and honey is mostly fructose. You also find high amounts of fructose in high fructose corn syrup (HFCA). If you are a food label reader, you already know that you find HFCS in most processed foods including sweet drinks, sweets, and even bread. It is a very cheap sweetener so it is often used in processed foods instead of table sugar or sucrose, which is more expensive. But those aren't the only places you find fructose. There has been an explosion in the US food supply of products marketed to people with diabetes. Most of them are processed to have a low glycemic response . . . in other words, have a smaller rise in blood glucose than other products. Many of these products use fructose as a sweetener because it has a smaller impact on blood glucose than other sweeteners like glucose.
So what does all this mean?
People with diabetes are at high risk for heart disease. Many people with diabetes are trying to lower their cholesterol levels to lower their risk. People are also looking for products that are sweet but have a low glycemic index. But this research, while still only two months long, shows a disturbing trend for fructose to make bad cholesterol worse. I would caution people about increasing their intake of products containing added fructose because of the possible effects on their lipid levels.