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Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School
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New Releases

You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Too much fructose a hazard for heart health, from the Harvard Heart Letter

Fructose, also called fruit sugar, was once a minor part of the American diet. A century ago, the average person took in about 15 grams a day (roughly half an ounce), mostly from eating fruits and vegetables. Today, we get more than triple that amount, almost all of it from the refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup used to make breakfast cereals, pastries, soda and fruit drinks, and other sweet foods. Given the way the body breaks down fructose, that increase may be contributing to liver and heart disease, reports the September 2011 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.

Liver cells are the only cells in the body that metabolize fructose. Surprisingly, fat is a key byproduct of the breakdown of fructose. Give the liver enough fructose, and tiny fat droplets begin to accumulate in the organ. This buildup is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. If it becomes severe enough, it can cause serious liver damage.

Cycling of fructose through the liver also elevates triglycerides in the bloodstream, increases harmful LDL (so-called “bad”) cholesterol, promotes the buildup of fat around organs (visceral fat), increases blood pressure, and causes other changes that are harmful to the arteries and heart. Two recent studies have linked higher intake of fructose with higher chances of developing or dying from heart disease.

Avoiding these problems doesn't mean giving up fruit, which is good for you. Instead, it is another good reason for avoiding sugary drinks and foods with added refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

Read the full-length article: "Abundance of fructose not good for the liver, heart"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Heart Letter

  • Sodium, potassium together influence heart health
  • September 2011 references and further reading
  • COURAGE not followed by action
  • What to do when blood pressure resists control
  • Peripheral artery disease often goes untreated
  • Abundance of fructose not good for the liver, heart
  • Heart Beat: "Polypill" test raises questions
  • Heart Beat: Caution advised on Chantix use
  • Heart Beat: Another day in the sun for olive oil?
  • Heart Beat: Failing hearts linked to broken bones
  • Heart Beat: Pause in CPR before shock reduces survival
  • Follow-up: Sodium/potassium ratio important for health
  • Ask the doctor: Do I need to take warfarin for occasional lone atrial fibrillation?
  • Ask the doctor: How do I check my heart rate?

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.