If you are like the people in the High-Fructose Corn Syrup commercial and are caught speechless when asked why we don’t want to partake of something made with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), then this article is for you.
First, let’s talk about what HFCS is. HFCS is a liquid sweetener made from corn – it is over 20 times sweeter and significantly more processed than the corn syrup I know as Karo. The technology to make it wasn’t available until 1968.
In response to the recent advertising campaign paid for by the Corn Refiners Association that claims HFCS is like honey and is also the same as natural sugar, Live Science says the following: “High-fructose corn syrup could be all-natural if cornstarch happened to fall into a vat of alpha-amylase, soak there for a while, then trickle into another vat of glucoamylase, get strained to remove aspergilus fungus likely growing on top, and then find its way into some industrial-grade D-xylose isomerase.”
HFCS is in almost every processed food or drink that used to contain sugar – read labels and you will be surprised. It dominates the sweetener market and accounts for roughly $4.5 billion in annual sales. In 2003, Americans consumed an average of sixty-one pounds of HFCS per person. WOW! (This is in addition to the 150 pounds of sugar consumed by the average American.)
The real problem with HFCS is how the body metabolizes it. HFCS is turned into fat more rapidly than any other sweetener. New research is showing that HFCS metabolizes to triglycerides (read as heart disease) and fat (read as obesity) as opposed to blood sugar. And once you start this kind of fat synthesis, it is really hard to stop it.
Another significant problem with HFCS is that it doesn’t signal the body that it has consumed sugar or calories – so you keep eating and it keeps turning to fat. Scientists have clearly linked the rising HFCS consumption to the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Sodas sweetened with HFCS have very high levels of reactive carbonyls – these are undesirable reactive compounds that are believed to cause tissue damage much like the damage to tissue caused by diabetes (neuropathy, retinopathy and heart disease).
So with all of this information about how bad HFCS is, you can now say no to products containing it and know why. And you can also not be fooled by the slick advertising of the Corn Refiners Association.
Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.