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High Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted Feb 24 2010 12:00am

I have spoken often about my dislike for this ingredient..
this article , while a bit lengthy, is extremely informative
and tells you WHY hfcs is so bad for you.
I highlighted the best parts if you only have time to skim.

Sickeningly Sweet: The Effects of High-Fructose Corn Syrup

By Marin Gazzaniga for MSN Health & Fitness

Start reading the labels of processed foods and you may be surprised at the number of items from spaghetti sauce to English muffinsthat contain high-fructose corn syrup(HFCS) a combination of fructose and dextrose. There was a time when these types of foods were sweetened with good old-fashioned sugar. But in the 30-plus years since it was introduced, HFCS has gone from accounting for less than 1 percent of caloric sweeteners used in processed food, to representing 42 percent of added caloric sweetenersmainly because it is cheaper and sweeter.

There's something else that has risen dramatically in the past three decades: the obesity rate, and Type 2 diabetes. Current estimates are that 60 million American adults (age 20 or older) are obese. Thats 30 percent of the population. Childhood obesity has tripled in that time. Could there be a link?

Blame the Big Gulps?

In July, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) called on the FDA to require health warnings on sodas. According to Peter J. Havel, an endocrinologist at UC Davis, researchers and epidemiologists suspect that increased HFCS, particularly in sodas, is a contributing factor to the rise in obesity, though certainly not the only one, and, to date, no direct causal link has been proved. Sodas are the focus of inquiry for several reasons: the prevalent use of HFCS in non-diet soft drinks, the increasingly large serving sizes and the possibility that certain properties of HFCS may interact with hormones involved in body weight modulation.

Dr. George Bray is a professor of medicine at Louisiana State University, and has looked at whether HFCS in beverages has played a role in the increase in obesity in the U.S. He says that two-thirds of the high-fructose corn syrup Americans consume is in soft drinks. If you add a single soft drink to an otherwise balanced energy level [meaning you are burning as many calories and you are taking in] for one year you will accumulate an additional 15 pounds, says Bray.

And many are drinking more than one pop a day. According to CSPI, "Carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet, providing about 7 percent of calories; adding in noncarbonated drinks brings the figure to 9 percent. Teenagers get 13 percent of their calories from carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks."

The table sugar versus HFCS debate

All sugars are not alike. Sugars are carbohydrates and sweet to the taste (anything ending in -ose in ingredient lists is a sugar). The sugars at the heart of the HFCS issue are: sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose (also known as dextrose).

The Corn Refiners Association and other special interest groups rebut the idea
that theres anything wrong with HFCS. They claim theres no difference between HFCS and table sugar because both are made up of about 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose.

They are wrong, says Bray. As he explains, HFCS is a solution with fructose and glucose as separate molecules, whereas sucrose -again, thats table sugar- is a single molecule coupling fructose and glucose. Because of this, there are twice as many molecules of sweetener in a 10 percent solution of HFCS as in a 10 percent solution of sugar. This makes the fructose in the HFCS solution more available to stimulate the sweet receptors on the tongue. Translation: HFCS may make the soft drinks more desirable for their sweetness than if they were sweetened with ordinary sugar. Bray also suggests that the higher molecule number may play a role in the way sweetened sodas enhance our desire to eat (or drink) more.

Size matters

No one is suggesting that high-fructose corn syrup is the sole culprit in the obesity rise. As Dr. Robert Rizza, president of the American Diabetic Association says: Any food that is consumed in excess can result in any of us having more calories than our bodies need. So if youre using high-fructose syrups of any kinds in certain kinds of foods, in sodas, colas, that indeed could contribute. On the other hand if you were consuming it as part of a balanced diet with a balanced number of calories youd be fine. It all boils down to moderation and balance.

As for diabetes, obesity is a known contributor to Type 2 diabetes. And according to Rizza, this disease is a growing problem that we need to take very seriously: One in three Americans born in 2000 will develop diabetes, which is currently the major cause of blindness, renal failure, heart disease strokes, nerve disease.

Americans need to get serious about keeping their weight down. As Havel says, Bottom line? Dont eat too much sugar (of any kind) or fat and exercise more. If you dont have a weight problem and drink sweetened beverages, try to limit yourself to one a day, rather than five.

If you want to avoid high-fructose corn syrup, start by reading the labels of processed foods. The higher up on the ingredient list HFCS is listed, the more there is. Consider using artificial sweeteners, in moderation, and keep in mind that eating foods as close to their natural form is a good way to keep additional sugars out of your diet. Youre already sweet enough.

What do you think after that?

Are you more motivated to stay away from hfcs?

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