Any doctor will warn you against a diet that contains too much sugar, especially the kind that comes from beverages like soda and artificially-sweetened juices, but have you ever wondered why? A new review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology answers that question.

In addition to the conventional wisdom that sugary drinks lead to weight gain because of the empty calories that do little to satisfy hunger, the study, authored by Harvard researchers, found that drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup are also metabolized differently in the body.

Fructose in Your Body: Fuel Versus Fat

Unlike other forms of sugar, such as glucose, which is more easily used by the body for fuel, the study’s authors found that fructose is metabolized in the liver, where it is converted to fatty compounds called triglycerides. These triglycerides become fat, which is stored in the body, meaning that fructose not only adds overall calories to your diet, but it also contributes directly to weight gain.

Too much of this kind of fat can also contribute to the development of fatty liver disease, a common ailment that can, in some cases, lead to insulin resistance, which is a key risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. In high volumes, fructose can also lead to other health problems, such as an excessive amount of uric acid in the bloodstream. Too much uric acid can lead to gout and even kidney failure.

How to Cut Your Risk: Lower Your Sugar Intake

Unfortunately, weeding out fructose in your diet can be tricky; so much of the American diet includes added sugars like fructose and glucose that just cutting one without the other can be difficult. For this reason, the study recommends lowering your consumption of added sugars in general.

The best way to do this is to be a savvy consumer. Carefully read the labels of beverages you consume, and look for added ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup. By cutting out added fructose, you’ll not only be reducing the number of overall calories in your diet, but also warding off weight gain, diabetes, and even liver disease.

Sources:

https://www.acc.org/about-acc/press-releases/2015/09/28/14/11/new-research-exposes-the-health-risks-of-fructose-and-sugary-drinkspress-release?w_nav=S

http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/quick-tips-avoiding-empty-calories-get-started

https://www.rose-hulman.edu/~brandt/Chem330/EndocrineNotes/Chapter_5_Glucose.pdf