A new study suggests that fruit sugars, such as fructose, may actually intensify our cravings for high-calorie and unhealthy foods.
The study, which involved just two-dozen volunteers, was carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California. Participants were given a cherry-flavored beverage that contained either gluctose or fructose. They were not told which sweetener was in the drink.
After a short while had passed, the participants were then asked to rate how hungry they felt. They also underwent brain scans while they were shown pictures of high-calorie food items, including burgers, pizza, and biscuits.
According to the researchers behind the study, people responded more strongly to the photos of unhealthy foods after they’d consumed fructose. The volunteers who drank the gluctose-sweetened drink were less likely to desire these foods. At the same time, people who drank the fructose beverage reported feeling more intense cravings for unhealthy foods.
While the study’s findings are being called important, many health researchers note that the study itself may be too simplistic.
Eating fructose and glucose in isolation is very different to eating them within the context of a food where we have other nutrients that interact and can affect digestion,” notes Priya Tew of the British Dietetic Association.
For example, fructose in fruit is tied up within the cellular structure of that fruit and the fibre content slows down the release of the fructose into the bloodstream. Fruit also has a high water content and takes a while for us to chew and digest so the fructose is not instantly released.”