Sunday, January 4, 2015

High Fructose Consumption, Inflammation Up (Bad), LDL-to-HDL Ratio Down (Good) - Is That Good or Bad for the Heart?

Remember: If anything fructose from beverages (including juices), yet not fructose from whole fruit is a problem. In fact eating whole fruits will decrease your blood lipids and high sensitivity C reactive protein (hs-CRP) inflammation markers.
Fructose is bad for you, right? Right. According to the latest study from the University of Newcastle, the consumption of only one drink containing containing 50 g of either fructose or glucose or sucrose dissolved in water will have detrimental effects on the #1 indicator of whole body inflammation, which is high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).

Much to the researchers surprise, though, the same amount of fructose had significant beneficial effects on the plasma lipid levels of the healthy male and female adults (n = 14) between the ages of 18-60 years who were recruited by advertisement and underwent study procedures at the Nutraceuticals Research Group Clinic rooms at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
Learn more about fructose at the SuppVersity

Bad Fructose not so Bad, After All! Learn its Benefits.

Fructose From Fruit is NOT the Problem

Americans Don't Eat More Fructose These Days!

An Apple A Day, Keeps... & More (Guestpost)

Fructose is Not Worse Than Sugar

The Obesogenic Fructose Fat Connection
Since the exclusion criteria were: diagnosed hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, currently on fructose/sugar restricted diet, vegan diet or weight loss program, undergone any surgical procedure for obesity, pregnant or lactating mother, taking lipid-lowering or anti-inflammatory drugs and BMI >30kg/m², the results may well be different in "sicker" individuals, but for the guys and gals who drank the three 50g "sugar" solutions on three different occasions after an overnight fast, the "negative effects" of fructose were far from being conclusive.
Figure 1: Changes in hs-CRP, HDL and LDL in response to the ingestion of the test drinks (Jameel. 2014).
Even if you belong to the ever-increasing numbers of brainwashed fructose haters who believe that fructose and not a general overconsumption of energy was to blame for the obesity epidemic, you will have to admit that the data in Figure 1 leaves the significance of concomitant increases in hs-CRP and significant improvements in the HDL/LDL ratio, as the scientists phrase it, "to be delineated when considering health effects of feeding fructose-rich diets" (Jameel. 2014).
Apples reduce, apple juice increases hs-CRP in healthy volunteers (Ravn-Haren. 2013).
Don't mistake fruits for pure fructose: Studies indicate that a high fruit consumption is associated with reduced hs-CRP scores and a lower mRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of some relevant proinflammatory gene markers (Oliveira. 2009; Hermsdorff. 2010). This is yet not the case for fruit juices, as you may remember from a previous SuppVersity post discussing the results of Gitte Ravn-Haren's 2013 study which showed that the intake of whole apples had beneficial, the consumption of apple juice, however, detrimental effects on plasma lipids and - as you can see in the figure to the left - hs-CRP levels of the healthy volunteers (Gitte Ravn-Haren 2013).
Well, yes, but (a) it's only an acute response and (b) while increased levels of hs-CRP have been found to be associated with heart disease (Rifai. 2001; Danesh. 2004), the same can be said for a high LDL/HDL ratio (Fernandez. 2008).

Figure 2: CRP-dependent risk levels for cardiovascular disease according to the American Hear Association.
If we also take into consideration that the baseline hs-CRP level of the subjects was 1.5mg/L and thus low to mid-range for the average Westerner (depending on his or her ethnicity | Albert. 2004), an increase of 10% to a maximal value of 1.65mg/L would not bring them to critical heights of which the Farmingham study says that they start at 3mg/L for Westerners (Wilson. 2005). That's not ana optimal level, but considering the fact that we are talking about "average Joes and Janes" who probably don't work out, eat whatever they like and give a damn about their sleep hygiene (all three factors have previously been linked to elevated hs-CRP levels) that's not astonishing and has absolutely nothing to do with the ingestion of 50g of fructose.

Furthermore, a comparison of the predictive value of different risk markers for cardiovascular disease by Folsom, et al. (2006) indicates that the hs-CRP values did not add to the prognostic value of the standard risk factors which are age, race, sex, systolic blood pressure, smoking status, diabetes and - you guessed it - total and high density lipoprotein cholesterol, which increased by almost 7% while the amount of LDL dropped by maximally 6%. Thus the LDL/HDL ratio decreased from 1.84 to 1.62. That's a 12% decrease that would be health relevant if the subjects' LDL/HDL ratio was not far away from the danger-zone (>5 | see Manninen. 1992), already. Similarly, the total cholesterol to HDL ratio dropped by -1.97 but wasn't in the danger zone before, either.
Incremental area under the curve for glucose and insulin 0-120min after consuming the test beverages (Jameel. 2014).
So what? Overall the results provide no evidence that the occasional consumption of a larg(er) bolus of fructose was unhealthier than the same amount of glucose or sucrose. If you take a parting look at the glucose and insulin response you will also see why fructose has long been haled as the "healthier" alternative to sugar for type II diabetics: there is no increase in glucose or insulin in response to the ingestion of 50g of fructose. And even the dreaded increase in triglycerides that occurs when the liver converts the fructose to fat did not occur (in fact, the levels dropped by ~4%, while they increased when the subjects consumed glucose (+11%) or sucrose (+4%).

So, if you've been drinking your first real coke of 2015 last night, don't worry. It probably didn't hurt your heart. If you plan to continue drinking 1l of the brown sugar-liquid everyday, this year, though, I would not guarantee that the extra pounds you may be gaining and the diabetes you may be developing won't have negative consequences for your heart and maybe liver health  | Comment on Facebook.
References:
  • Danesh, John, et al. "C-reactive protein and other circulating markers of inflammation in the prediction of coronary heart disease." New England Journal of Medicine 350.14 (2004): 1387-1397. 
  • Fernandez, Maria Luz, and Densie Webb. "The LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio as a valuable tool to evaluate coronary heart disease risk." Journal of the American College of Nutrition 27.1 (2008): 1-5.
  • Folsom, Aaron R., et al. "An assessment of incremental coronary risk prediction using C-reactive protein and other novel risk markers: the atherosclerosis risk in communities study." Archives of internal medicine 166.13 (2006): 1368-1373. 
  • Hermsdorff, Helen Hermana M., et al. "Research Fruit and vegetable consumption and proinflammatory gene expression from peripheral blood mononuclear cells in young adults: a translational study." (2010).
  • Jameel, Faizan, et al. "Acute effects of feeding fructose, glucose and sucrose on blood lipid levels and systemic inflammation." Lipids in Health and Disease 13.1 (2014): 195.
  • Manninen, Vesa, et al. "Joint effects of serum triglyceride and LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol concentrations on coronary heart disease risk in the Helsinki Heart Study. Implications for treatment." Circulation 85.1 (1992): 37-45.
  • Oliveira, A., F. Rodriguez-Artalejo, and C. Lopes. "The association of fruits, vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and fibre intake with high-sensitivity C-reactive protein: sex and body mass index interactions." European journal of clinical nutrition 63.11 (2009): 1345-1352. 
  • Ravn-Haren, Gitte, et al. "Intake of whole apples or clear apple juice has contrasting effects on plasma lipids in healthy volunteers." European journal of nutrition 52.8 (2013): 1875-1889.
  • Rifai, Nader, and Paul M. Ridker. "High-sensitivity C-reactive protein: a novel and promising marker of coronary heart disease." Clinical chemistry 47.3 (2001): 403-411.
  • Wilson, Peter WF, et al. "C-reactive protein and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women from the Framingham Heart Study." Archives of internal medicine 165.21 (2005): 2473-2478.