Dr Louise Goff, who is the Chief Investigator of the HEAL-D Study, and her colleagues at King's, have just published new research looking at how people of different ethnic ancestry respond to meals containing high levels of glucose and fructose.
Both these sugars are found naturally in fruits and healthy carbohydrates, but they are also added to many processed foods including sugar-sweetened drinks, cakes & biscuits and confectionary, in the form of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, causing people have a much higher intake than recommended in a healthy diet. Fructose in particular has been shown to increase the level of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your bloodstream after you eat or drink it. Having a high level of triglycerides is not good because it increases your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
People of African ancestry living in the UK have traditionally been shown to have lower levels of these triglyceride fats than white European individuals. This is one of the reasons why people from African backgrounds may have traditionally had lower heart disease risk than Europeans. However there is some evidence to suggest that this benefit is being lost in younger generations in the UK, who come from an African heritage.
The traditional African diet is very low in added sugars, however data from our previous work suggests that as people from West Africa spend longer living in the UK, their diets become higher in sugary processed food and drinks, that are unfortunately so common in the typical Western diet.
This work was carried out to see if there were any differences in the way people from an African background process fructose and glucose, compared to white Europeans.
The study involved 20 men and showed that in response to eating a meal containing high levels or fructose or glucose, the increase in the blood triglycerides (or fats) was higher in the men from an African background than the white Europeans.
This is the first study to show that there is a difference in the way people from an African background respond to fructose and glucose which may increase their risk of chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease, as diets begin to change from traditional cultural foods to include sugary processed Western foods. This is a small study but it helps develop our understanding of some of the metabolic factors influencing differing health risk, in different UK populations.
Read the published paper
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