Have you seen these commercials on TV about high fructose corn syrup and how it’s just like sugar and good in moderation? I thought I was watching a Saturday Night Live skit. With the Corn Refiner’s Association backing the commercial, we should all take a good look at what there trying to sell.
Most common types of High-Fructose Corn Syrup are: HFCS 90 (mostly for making HFCS 55), approximately 90% fructose and 10% glucose; HFCS 55 (mostly used in soft drinks), approximately 55% fructose and 45% glucose; and HFCS 42 (used in most foods and baked goods), approximately 42% fructose and 58% glucose.
Many studies have shown the negative side effects of HFCS, while new studies also claim there is no difference in the health risks consuming HFCS and all the other sugars. Fructose, of course, is the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit. So what do you make of all this? I’ll tell you everything I know.
Consumption of HFCS has been linked to obesity when it taking in high amounts as it is in a typical American diet. Would it cause more harm than other sugars like sucrose, glucose etc? As much as the corn refiner’s association would like you to believe it does not cause more harm, studies have shown that there is more to the story.
According to the Princeton University, researchers fed rats sucrose, fructose and glucose for six months. All three groups did not show weight gain, high blood sugar, leptin levels or cholesterol. However, the group that was fed fructose had high triglycerides in their blood.
Next, the the same rats were fed a high fat diet for two weeks and given leptin shots (which should have reduced their appetite and therefore their intake). The fructose- free rats did respond by eating less but the fructose fed rats did not. The fructose fed rats became leptin resistant, which is what happens in obesity. How does this happen? The high triglycerides in the blood prevents leptin from signaling the brain properly to reduce appetite, so you eat more. In addition fructose is metabolized by the body differently than other sugars and is stored as fat much more quickly.
To simplify high fructose corn syrup consumption makes you gain more weight when you eat a high fat diet. Not to mention, it’s an abomination for your teeth. Can you have fructose in moderate amounts and not gain weight when you eat a balanced low fat diet? Most likely, no. The problem is that that most Americans consume excessive amounts of HFCS, it is found in almost all processed food , soda and baked products. So what about fruit? Fruit is packed with vitamins and fiber, which is essential to good health. Very rarely do you find that people eat an excess of fruit.
The best remedy is to eat foods that are low in sugar and that generally means eating less processed foods. No one wants to take sugar out of their diet completely but moderation and a clean, lean diet is essential for optimal health.
Start fresh, go through your kitchen cabinets and clear out the soda and most of the packaged foods. HFCS came into the American diet in the 1970s, which consequently is when the obesity rates began to rise. What do you think people ate before the processed foods? It’s possible to find tasty alternatives to processed foods, don’t be lazy. You can have your cake eat it too, in moderation.
Fiorella DiCarlo RD, RDN, CDN
For contrast, here I talk about good foods that get a bad rap: