Why critics say HFCS is a four letter word...that goes right to our waistlines

Articles
September 20, 2003

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that men who consume very high levels of fructose elevated their triglyceride level by 32 percent. As trygliceride enters our blood stream, it makes our cells resistant to insulin, making our body’s fat burning and storage system even more sluggish.

Americans are fat! And while it appears that each week there are new diets and new fingers eager to point blame towards restaurants, food products or the Internet. It’s important for us to remember that nutrition is a relatively new science. New research developments change the conventional wisdom, and can force the food industry to adjust their processing techniques or ingredients. The truth is that there are certain ingredients that are being used in our everyday foods that may well be culpable in the ‘fat war.’

One such ingredient that appears to be adding more inches to our waistline than is necessary is high fructose corn syrup.

 

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is processed from hydrolyzed corn starch (so it’s not completely natural) and contains a high level of fructose (which is naturally occurring in fruits and honey) and a simple sugar carbohydrate, just like sucrose. It is about 75% sweeter than sucrose, less expensiv e than sugar, and mixes well in many foods. Food manufacturers (especially soda manufacturers) began using HFCS widely in the early 1970s to save money, and it was thought of as a revolutionary advance in food science because of its stability and usefullness in a variety of foods.

According to the Corn Refiners Association, HFCS is made up of about 50% fuctose and 50% dextrose, which they say is about the same composition of table sugar or sucrose. HFCS 42 contains 42% fructose (This product is used primarily by food processors of canned goods, baking and ice cream products) and HFCS 55 contains 55% fructose (and is used primarily by the soft drink industry).

While many reports show that Americans consumption of white refined sugar has dropped over the past 20 years, it is mostly a result of the switch by food companies to HFCS, which according to USDA figures shows an increased consumption by 250% over the last 15 years. Estimates are that we consume about 9% of our daily calories in the form of fructose.

So why is High Fructose Corn Syrup being blamed? The problem appears to be the fructose not the corn syrup.

Corn syrup’s sugar is primarily glucose, which our body burns as a source of immediate energy, is stored in muscles and our liver for later use, and releases insulin.

Fructose, on the other hand, does not release or stimulate insulin. Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps to metabolize our foods by pushing carbohydrates into our muscle cells to be used as energy, and allows carbohydrates to be stores in our liver for later use. It also stimulates production of another hormone, leptin, which helps to regulate our storage of body fat and increases our metabolism when needed. These two hormones keep our body fat regulated and tells us, for all intent purposes, when we are satisfied and sends the message to our brain to stop eating.

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that men who consume very high levels of fructose elevated their triglyceride level by 32 percent. As trygliceride enters our blood stream, it makes our cells resistant to insulin, making our body’s fat burning and storage system even more sluggish.

So what can we do?

First, as always, read those labels! If you find that one of the first ingredients on the label is ‘high fructose corn syrup,’ look to the nutrition facts label and read how much sugar is actually in the food. If there is 2-3 grams or less, there is less concern than those foods with higher quantities. For those products, you may want to consider other alternatives that don’t contain HFCS. If the ingredient label lists ‘sugar’ or ‘cane sugar’ the ingredient is made from sucrose, which is a 50/50 blend of fructose and glucose, which has not been found to cause the same problems.

You may be surprised to see just which foods contain HFCS: sodas you would expect, but others like juices, candies, baked goods, cookies, syrups, yogurts, soups, ketchup, breakfast cereals, soups and pasta sauces may surprise you.

In 1966 per capita consumption of high fructose corn syrup was zero – in 2001 that rose to 62.6 pounds per person per year. We can win the fat war by reading the labels and sending the message to food companies to make the changes to help us eat better and lead healthier lives. What we buy (and don’t buy) on the supermarket shelves is the most powerful communication.

The Corn Refiners Association asserts that scientific evidence linking HFCS and obesity is flawed. CLICK HERE to see what they have to say.

Here are some products featured on the Today Show that do not contain HFCS:

 

 

  • Boylan's Cane Sugar Soda www.bev.net.com/reviews/boylans
  • Keto Ketchup & Keto Pancake Syrup www.ketofoods.com 1-800-542-3230
  • Highland Organic Sugar Works www.highlandsugarworks.com 1-800-452-4012
  • Amy's Organic Tomato Soup www.amys.com 707-578-7188