What is Fructose?
Fructose is a type of sugar naturally found in many fruits, vegetables and honey. Fructose is also found in high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap liquid sweetener derived from corn starch. High-fructose corn syrup is used in thousands of different food products, including desserts, soda, bread, sauces, and other packaged goods.
According to the Department of Agriculture, the average American consumed approximately 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2014. Furthermore, The American Heart Association estimates that the average American consumes double, or triple, the recommended amount of sugar each day.
The Negative Side Effects of Fructose:
Eating too much fructose can have extremely negative side effects on the body. It can lead to diabetes and heart disease, and can increase cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels.
To make matters worse, fructose can also negatively impact the brain. A team of researchers at UCLA discovered that high fructose levels can damage the communication between brain cells and increase the amount of toxic molecules in the brain. This can lead to memory loss and make it hard for us to learn information. It can also lead to a number of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, bipolar disorder and depression.
The Positive Side Effects of DHA:
Because fructose, particularly high-fructose corn syrup, is so prevalent in the foods we eat, it can be hard (even for the most health-conscious consumer) to properly regulate their fructose levels. However, it’s not all bad news. The same study, conducted by researchers at UCLA, found that the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can help eliminate the harmful side effects of fructose.
DHA is a type of omega-3 typically found in fatty fish and more recently in algae (you can check out a high in DHA algae omega-3 supplement here). DHA is an essential nutrient that makes up nearly half of the fatty acids in the brain. DHA strengthens the synapses in the brain, improves memory and cognitive functioning, and helps support eye and skin health.
The Effects of DHA on Fructose:
The team at UCLA tested the effects of DHA on fructose using rats. First, they trained rats to escape from a maze. Then, they separated the rats into three groups. The first group of rats was given water mixed with fructose (the equivalent of about one liter of soda). The second group was given the same water and fructose mixture, but also fed a diet rich in DHA. The third group was given plain water without fructose or DHA. After six weeks, the researchers watched the rats try and escape from the same maze.
The rats that had been given water mixed with fructose completed the maze at about half the speed as the rats that were given only water, proving that the fructose had impacted their memory.
However, the group that was given water mixed with fructose and a diet rich in DHA completed the maze at the same speed as the group that was given only water – evidence that the DHA eliminated the negative side effects of the fructose.