TRUE or FALSE: how can your diet reduce the risk of cardiometabolic diseases?

On the occasion of the World Food Day 2023IHU ICAN (Foundation for Innovation in Cardiometabolism and Nutrition) invites you to test your knowledge about the impact of your diet on your health, and the consequences in the development of cardiometabolic diseases (diabetes, obesityliver disease, heart and vascular disease…).

Answer the 5 questions below proposed by Vittoria Zambon, Nutritionist at IHU ICAN.

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Test your knowledge and discover the scientific answer below!

  1. Fructose is a sugar to be avoided in the diet, as it has harmful effects on health, particularly on the liver. TRUE OR FALSE?
  1. Coffee consumption is recommended for patients with metabolic steatosis of the liver or “fatty liver disease”. TRUE OR FALSE?
  1. Probiotics are living micro-organisms that can be used in the treatment of many cardiometabolic diseases. TRUE OR FALSE?
  1. Different types of cooking and degrees of meat processing have no impact on health. TRUE OR FALSE?
  1. Omega 3 and vitamin E are particularly beneficial nutrients for cardiovascular and liver metabolism. TRUE OR FALSE?

1. Fructose consumption: not good for the liver?

“Fructose is a sugar to be avoided in the diet because it has harmful effects on health, particularly on the liver.”

Answer: FALSE.

  • Fructose is a sugar naturally present in certain foods (fruit, honey, certain vegetables…) or added to processed foods by the food industry (additives, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners…).
  • It is estimated that around 90% of fructose is metabolized by the liver, making this organ particularly vulnerable to excessive intake of this sugar, which can lead to the early signs of excessive fat accumulation in the liver.
  • However, the origin of the fructose consumed (natural or processed) is decisive in its nutritional contribution to health: the natural fructose brings a variety of micronutrients combined with dietary fiber, while the processed fructose provides high energy density combined with increased amounts of sugar and saturated fats.
  • Consequently, the effect of fructose consumption on liver function would be more related to the excess fat provided by unhealthy eating habits, leading to metabolic abnormalities, than to fructose itself.
  • To date, the ICAN IHU teams wish to continue their research to compare the impact of natural and processed fructose consumption on the development and progression of metabolic steatosis of the liver.

Good to know: the WHO recommends a maximum consumption of 50 grams of sugar per day (10 teaspoons), with an ideal threshold of 25 g/d (values for a 2,000 kcal/d diet).

2. 3 cups of coffee a day against metabolic steatosis of the liver?

“Coffee consumption is recommended for patients with NASH (metabolic fatty liver disease)”.


  • Regular consumption of coffee, without added sugar, is associated with a significant reduction in the risk and progression of metabolic liver steatosis.
  • Thus, coffee can be considered a means of prevention for patients with metabolic steatosis of the liver, if combined with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
  • The recommended dose of coffee has yet to be defined by scientific research using prospective trials, but studies suggest that consumption of 3 cups a day would reduce the progression of metabolic steatosis of the liver thanks to hepato-protective effects (liver protection).
  • The beneficial effects are particularly noticeable when filter coffee is consumed, rather than espresso coffee, since the final composition of coffee differs according to the extraction method used. Filter coffee preparation seems to preserve chlorogenic acids (natural antioxidants found in coffee beans) better than espresso coffee.

Good to know: Excessive coffee consumption is generally associated with smoking. To limit your consumption and take care of your liver, don’t smoke!

3. Probiotics, allies for the intestinal microbiota?

“Probiotics are living microorganisms that can be used in the treatment of many cardiometabolic diseases.”


  • Probiotics play a therapeutic role in certain cardiometabolic diseases (hypercholesterolemia, obesity, metabolic steatosis of the liver, other gastrointestinal diseases…), thanks to their positive interactions with the intestinal microbiota.
  • Probiotics help reduce problems of intestinal permeability, oxidative damage (oxidative stress) and the inflammatory consequences of these metabolic imbalances.
  • This underlines the importance of a balanced and diversified diet in maintaining a healthy microbiota and a healthy body.

4. Red meat: no impact on health?

“Different types of cooking and degrees of meat processing have no impact on health.”

Answer: FALSE.

  • Cooking meat at high temperatures (over 100 – 130°C) for prolonged periods (frying, grilling, roasting…) induces the formation of aromatic heterocyclic amines (AHAs), compounds that are harmful to health and recognized carcinogens.
  • AHAs are also associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance (leading to diabetes) and metabolic steatosis of the liver.
  • These observations may be linked to dietary habits based on high consumption of saturated fatty acids and ultra-processed food products, leading to cholesterol and increased inflammatory responses and lipid storage in the liver.

Good to know: Dietary guidelines for cardiometabolic health encourage a diet low in red meats (1 to 2 servings/week of 100 g) and processed meats (1 serving/week of 50 g). These indications correspond in particular to the Mediterranean diet, which includes more plant-based proteins, and has beneficial effects on the prevention of cardiometabolic diseases.

5. Omega-3 and vitamin E: health benefits?

“Omega-3 and vitamin E are particularly beneficial nutrients for preventing cardiometabolic, cardiovascular and hepatic (liver) diseases.”


  • Omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids (found in seeds, nuts, certain fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna…) and vitamin E (found in vegetable oils, nuts, avocado…) are substances associated with improved health.
  • This is due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of these nutrients, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as fatty liver.

Promote a balanced diet to prevent cardiometabolic diseases

Diseases linked to an unbalanced diet include in recent years. In addition to the individual context of each person, a better nutrition education and access to clear information on the composition of foods are measures that can help foster healthy eating habits.

Legislation on food labelling, known as “Nutriscore“, aims to educate and sensitize consumers when making food choices, and to regulate the marketing of products that are potentially harmful to health.

Good to know: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet is one that meets an individual’s nutritional needs, providing sufficient, varied and wholesome foods to maintain an active life and reduce the risk of disease.

The recommended diet consists of fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans), nuts and wholegrain cereals (oats, wheat, rice), and is low in fat (especially saturated fat), sugar and salt.

Scientific research to combat obesity and related diseases

The scientific and medical teams at IHU ICAN are developing research projects to better understand and treat cardiometabolic diseases, particularly those linked to diet.

In particular, you can consult our nutritional recommendations in the booklet for patients with metabolic steatosis of the liver.

Consult the NASH educational bookletMake a donation to support research