High Fructose Corn Syrup: What’s the Deal, Yo?

At first I avoided it at all costs.  I heard high fructose corn syrup messes with your metabolism, creates chemical imbalances, makes you gain weight and yada yada yada. Enter ads sponsored by the Corn Refiner’s Association (people who make high fructose corn syrup):

So now that you’ve commercially educated yourself, what is high fructose corn syrup, anyway? According to the Mayo Clinic, HFCS is a sweetener and preservative made from corn. It’s like sugar, but chemically changed into another kind of sugar. And it’s in so many of our foods because it makes food last longer and is relatively cheap.

But is High Fructose Corn Syrup bad for you?

The Corn Refiner’s Association sponsored site says that HFCS has the same chemical content as sugar and that it gets broken down in the body similar to the way sugar would. And in legit studies at different universities, HFCS was shown to not wreak havoc on your metabolism or spike your blood glucose levels. What a sweet surprise, indeed.

But just yesterday, the LA Times published a study on high fructose corn syrup from Duke University. Move aside alcohol! Apparently High Fructose Corn Syrup has a similar effect on our livers! That’s right – you can stop worrying about weight gain and metabolism. Higher amounts of HFCS are now linked to liver scarring (which can lead to liver cancer) and liver inflammation. Oh, and did I mention lower levels of good cholesterol, as well?

And the Washington Post published an article about finding mercury in foods that contain HFCS. Thermometers are old news. We should probably just stick mercury in our food, right?

Americans don’t care. On average, 10% of our caloric intake over the last decade was made up of yup, you guessed it – high fructose corn syrup. Yummy (see visual below):

Basically, it’s chemically altered (like pretty much everything else we eat anyway). And even though the FDA says it qualifies as “natural”, don’t get carried away. You can clearly have HFCS in moderation – the Mayo Clinic said so! Since I try to eat healthy, I just eat less sugar in general. That includes both HFCS and normal sugar.

Food for thought: High Fructose Corn Syrup is cheap and therefore used more widely by food companies because of corn subsidies from the U.S. government. Hm.

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One response to “High Fructose Corn Syrup: What’s the Deal, Yo?

  1. I’ve seen some of the same reports. If you haven’t seen the presentation by Dr. Robert Lustig, UCSF, you should. I reference it in a post on “Obesity, HFCS, and fatty liver disease in children (as well as increased heart disease risk)” – http://amidthemaddingcrowd.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/obesity-hfcs-and-fatty-liver-disease/

    More info at http://amidthemaddingcrowd.wordpress.com/tag/fructose/.

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