Cut down sugar from diet instead of rice and potatoes: Study

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Washington, Dec 15 (UNI) Dieters should focus on cutting the amount of fructose they eat instead of limiting the consumption of starchy foods such as bread, rice and potatoes, suggest researchers.

''There's a fair amount of evidence that starch-based foods don't cause weight gain like sugar-based foods and don't cause the metabolic syndrome like sugar-based foods,'' said Dr Richard Johnson, senior author of the report published in European Journal of Nutrition, which reviewed several recent studies on fructose and obesity.

''Potatoes, pasta, rice may be relatively safe compared to table sugar. A fructose index may be a better way to assess the risk of carbohydrates related to obesity,'' he added.

Many diets -- including the low-carb variety -- are based on the glycemic index, which measures how foods affect blood glucose levels. Because starches convert to glucose in the body, these diets tend to limit foods such as rice and potatoes, reported Science Daily.

Fructose is considered as the most dangerous component of the sugar while glucose is rated little better as consumption of the former leads to increase in the level of uric acid. The hike in uric acid level leads to toning down of efficiency of insulin whose primary function is to regulate how body cells use and store sugar and other nutrients for energy.

''Certainly we don't think fructose is the only cause of the obesity epidemic,'' Dr Johnson said.

''Too many calories, too much junk food and too much high-fat food are also part of the problem. But we think that fructose may have the unique ability to induce insulin resistance and features of the metabolic syndrome that other foods don't do so easily,'' he added.

About 33 per cent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other researches and studies have also ssuggested that low-glycemic diet can reduce the risk for diabetes and heart disease, but the effect could occur because these dieters often are unintentionally limiting fructose as well by cutting out table sugar, Dr Johnson added.

''Processed foods have a lot of sugar and probably the biggest source (of fructose) is soft drinks,'' he added.

Dr Johnson also noted that, in relation to obesity, the type of fructose found in foods doesn't seem to matter. For example, the fructose in an apple is as problematic as the high-fructose corn syrup in soda. The apple is much more nutritious and contains far less sugar, but eating multiple apples in one sitting could send the body over the fructose edge.

Another research by Dr Johnson had tracked the rise of obesity and diseases such as diabetes with the rise in sugar consumption.

The rates of hypertension, diabetes and childhood obesity have risen steadily over the years.

''One of the things we have learned is this whole epidemic brought on by Western diet and culture tracks back to the 1800s,'' he said.

''Nowadays, fructose and high-fructose corn syrup are in everything,'' pointed out Dr Johnson.

Beside soft drinks, fructose can be found in pastries, ketchup, fruits, table sugar and jellies and in many processed foods, including the sugar substitute high fructose corn syrup.

Kathleen Melanson, an associate professor of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Rhode Island, said establishing a fructose index for foods could ''be an appropriate approach.'' UNI

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