Fructose: aneurysms and atherosclerosis

A while ago I wrote my thoughts on aspirin.

Recently, Joe asked: “If a large part of a chimpanzee’s diet is fructose, why are they not dying from any heart or aneurysms?”

It’s a good question. But I would ask in return how do we know they aren’t?

In the wild animals get sick and die just like we do. Only we are less likely to take notice because they have no newspapers with obituaries or anyone to do autopsies on a regular basis so we can investigate the cause of death. I would guess primates die all the time and are left behind where they return to the earth. I would also say that sick animals that are burdensome to the group would be left behind as well.  The San people did this as well if I am recalling The Old Way correctly.

Because of the lack of autopsy reports done on Chimpanzees in the wild it would be hard to know either way. But we do have Zoos. And autopsies are done there on occasion. Still we might say that the diet is a bit different from what a certain animal might eat in the wild. True. However, I think fructose is uniquely harmful. And I think that animals who eat a lot of fruit will have some of the same problems humans do with fructose.

But then we have the diet thing. The diet we feed them in the Zoo and then the diet they would eat in the wild. That’s a problem. But really, we can kind of work around this by say comparing the Chimpanzee to other animals say the Gorilla or Sheep which both ferment their food to short chain fatty acids. So perhaps we can compare animals that live in captivity to see a difference.

I have a couple papers on this topic. But I want to look at the pathology which is the most revealing. Lets start with the Chimpanzee:

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O.k. tea and milk? I doubt Chimpanzees are brewing tea in the bush. Nonetheless, I would think these food choices are something Dr. Peat would agree with. Nix the tea.

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Interesting. Now lets move to the other animals that eat a lot of leaves and grass and other roughage and convert it into fat.

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Interesting. What about a sheep? Those are probably fed pretty “normally” even in captivity.

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So we have one Chimpanzee, one Gorilla, and 122 Sheep. Is this enough data to get a realistic look into what is happening in the wild? Maybe for the sheep it is a better sample size.

I don’t base the harmfulness of fructose totally on macroscopic studies. I’m thinking more at the cellular level i.e. Crabtree effect. And thinking like that, this paper is convenient and fits with my bias.

But we have other omnivorous species of monkeys as well that tend to eat what a lot of folks would consider healthy.

2014-11-23 19_49_06-The Nonhuman Primates as Models for Studying Human Atherosclerosis_ Studies on t


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Day, C. E. (Ed.). (1976). Atherosclerosis Drug Discovery (Vol. 67). Boston, MA: Springer US. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-4618-7

Kavanagh, K., Wylie, A. T., Tucker, K. L., Hamp, T. J., Gharaibeh, R. Z., Fodor, A. A., & Cullen, J. M. C. (2013). Dietary fructose induces endotoxemia and hepatic injury in calorically controlled primates. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(2), 349–57. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.057331

Muldoon, M. F., Kaplan, J. R., Manuck, S. B., & Mann, J. J. (1992). Effects of a low-fat diet on brain serotonergic responsivity in cynomolgus monkeys. Biological Psychiatry, 31(7), 739–42. Retrieved from

Stehbens, W. E. (1963). Cerebral aneurysms of animals other than man. The Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, 86(1), 161–168. doi:10.1002/path.1700860120

2 Comments Fructose: aneurysms and atherosclerosis

  1. Isaac

    I’ve seen people make the connection between social stress and heart disease, but gorillas are social too aren’t they? The question is whether or not these primates that died were social subordinates for most or all of their lives.

  2. R

    Do you think there is a way to reverse fructose-induced hardening of arteries? Should I just hope for the best with a long term saturated-fat-based diet or is there maybe a recovery protocol for former low fat high carb types dealing with circulatory issues?

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