Are you concerned about the use of high fructose corn syrup in your food? Could the sweetener be a major contributor to obesity trends in the United States?
High fructose corn syrup dangers are for real. Studies show a growing connection between this additive and a wide range of health problems.
You probably know it’s a highly processed sweetener made from corn, whose production process is chemical-laden and much more complicated than that of sucrose from cane sugar.
It’s a winner for the commercial food business because it’s cheap. It tastes sweet like sucrose from cane sugar, blends well into foods, is easy to transport and has a long shelf life.
But new research shows high fructose corn syrup should win a different prize: the sweetener most likely to make you fat.
Why High Fructose Corn Syrup Makes You Fat
Recently, a Princeton University research team reported that long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup leads to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, along with a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.
No big surprise, right? But they also discovered high fructose corn syrup was the only substance tested – including regular sugar and high fat diets – that caused their subjects to gain weight 100% of the time.
And we’re not talking a trifling amount either… those subjects who ate a diet rich in high fructose corn syrup gained 48% more weight than those sticking to a normal diet!
Food companies like to say high fructose corn syrup is just another natural sweetener. Yet subtle but important changes during the manufacturing process make high fructose corn syrup a sumo wrestler’s dream – and a nightmare for anyone trying to get or keep a slim waistline.
When you consume food and drinks made with regular old-fashioned cane sugar or beet sugar you get a true natural form sweetener made of a perfectly balanced 50/50 match of fructose and glucose. This means every fructose molecule is bound to a glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it becomes fuel for your body.
High fructose corn syrup on the other hand has more fructose (that’s why it’s called “HIGH fructose”). Roughly 55% of high fructose corn syrup is fructose and 42% is glucose. The rest of it is made of larger sugar molecules called higher saccharides.
Now guess what happens thanks to this sugar molecule imbalance. Those extra fructose molecules go straight to your gut and to be stored as extra fat.
How to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup Dangers
Obesity in the United States has soared since high fructose corn syrup was introduced 40 years ago. In 1970, only 15% of the American population was obese. That has more than doubled to 33% of American adults today.
Obesity is a growing problem (no pun intended)… but that’s only the start of high fructose corn syrup dangers. Additional risks you face when consuming high fructose corn syrup include:
- Type-2 Diabetes
- High Cholesterol
- Heart Disease
- Liver Damage
- Mercury Exposure
High fructose corn syrup can be found in everything from fruit juice, soda, and cereal, to barbecue sauce, ketchup, and mayonnaise. You can find it in chips, ice cream, yogurt, bread, jam, and frozen dinners as well. It’s the most common added sweetener in processed foods and beverages.
The American Heart Association says women should consume no more than 100 calories a day from added sweeteners from any source. Men should consume no more than 150.
Here are some tips to help curb your consumption of added sweeteners, including dangerous high fructose corn syrup:
- Avoid sugary fruit juices and sodas.
- Drink water and other unsweetened beverages.
- Skip sugary, frosted breakfast cereals.
- Cut back on processed and packaged foods including microwaveable meals.
- Snack on vegetables and fruit. Low-fat cheese, whole-grain crackers and low-fat, low-calorie yogurt are also good choices.
- Avoid candy, pastries, cakes, and cookies.
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Parker H. A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain. News at Princeton. 2010 Mar 22.
Nelson J.K., What are the health concerns about high-fructose corn syrup?, mayoclinic.com, 2010 Oct.
Group E. 5 Health Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Global Healing Center. 2010 Aug 7.