A new study has found that consuming high fructose food – such as fruit, honey, corn syrup – may increase cravings for high calorie foods.
Researchers recruited 24 health volunteers to study the difference between consuming glucose and fructose and how it affected the brain’s response to rewards. They found that after consuming fructose the brain’s activity in the reward regions increased when shown images of food. The group that ate fructose also chose high calorie food over a proposed monetary reward.
The theory, published in the journal PNAS, tested its findings by asking the volunteers to drink a liquid with 2.5 ounces of either fructose or glucose (table sugar). Before consuming the drinks, the group were asked to rate their desire to eat out of ten (one being not at all and ten being very much so).
After drinking the liquid the volunteers had MRI brain scans while looking at images of food and objects such as buildings. They were then asked to rate their hunger. The group were then shown images of calorie dense food and asked if they would like to eat that food now, or wait for a monetary reward later.
The problem lies in, say researchers, that fructose doesn’t tell the brain when you’re full, which can lead to overeating and poor food decisions.
However, does this mean we should stop eating fructose containing fruit?
Absolutely not, say the researchers.
Dr. Kathleen A. Page, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, told The New York Times,
“Don’t stop eating fruit. It has a relatively low amount of sugar compared with processed foods and soft drinks — maybe 5 grams in an orange, compared with 25 grams in a 12-ounce can of soda. And it is packed with fiber, which helps slow down the absorption of food, which makes you feel full.”