Ask the Diva: Is Fructose Bad For Your Liver?

Which is worse for your liver, sugar or fructose? Nutrition Diva has the answer.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Ask the Diva: Is Fructose Bad For Your Liver?

Q. Which is worse for your liver, sugar or fructose? I recently discovered my favorite yogurt has fructose in it, so I switched to one with sugar. Is this better for my liver or just the same?

A. Fructose is unique among the various types of sugar in that it is metabolized in the liver instead of being taken up into the bloodstream. This can be viewed as an advantage: Fructose does not elevate your blood sugar the way other forms of sugar do. But consuming excessive amounts of fructose can cause a buildup of fatty tissue in the liver—which is not good.

However, I’m guessing that the change you made in your yogurt brand will have little impact on your liver. Yogurt sweetened with cane sugar will have virtually the same amount of fructose as yogurt sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, because both cane sugar and HFCS are made up of roughly equal parts fructose and glucose.  The best way to protect your liver from the harmful effects of fructose is to consume all concentrated sugars in moderation. That includes cane juice, brown rice syrup, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated fruit juice—and products made with them.

For more on sugar and your health, see:
Why is sugar bad?
Is fructose toxic?
How to reduce your added sugar intake
Are natural sugars better?
How much fruit is healthy?


Woman Eating Yogurt photo from Shutterstock.

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.