A new study led by scientists at the University of Zurich has found that moderate consumption of fructose and sucrose can significantly amplify fat production in the liver. Studies have also shown that changes in fat metabolism caused by these sugars can last a long time.
Previous studies have found that fructose in particular disrupts the liver’s ability to burn fat effectively. It is well known that a high fructose diet damages mitochondrial and shifts the liver from burning fat to storing fat.
The new study explores whether these same metabolic abnormalities are caused by moderate amounts of sugar in the diet. About 100 healthy young subjects were recruited and divided into three groups, plus a control group. Each group drank a beverage containing 80 grams of fructose, glucose, or sucrose per day. For reference, this is a rough two cans of cola with sugar content.
“The body’s liver produced twice as much fat in the fructose group as in the glucose group or control group — still more than 12 hours after the previous meal or sugar consumption.” Philipp Gerber, the lead researcher on the study, said.
Importantly, the results show that sucrose amplifies fat production in the liver to the same level as fructose. Previous studies have shown that only fructose is thought to have this negative effect on liver fat metabolism.
Gerber points out that these results suggest that adding a relatively small amount of sugar to the diet can trigger adverse metabolic effects. And these effects last longer than previously thought.
“Eighty grams of sugar a day, equivalent to about 0.8 liters of regular soft drinks, promotes fat production in the liver,” Gerber said. “And overactive fat production lasts longer, even if you don’t consume more sugar.”
The researchers eventually said the findings were a powerful reminder of limiting the amount of added sugar in the diet. The American Heart Foundation currently recommends no more than 37.5 grams of added sugar per day for men and no more than 25 grams for women.
The new study was published in the Journal of Hematology.