Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, light and dark corn syrup: very roughly translated these substances are more aptly named sugary sugar, ultimate ultra sugary sugar, sugary plain sugar and sugary sugar with a bit of molasses. But is it as dangerous as many articles and posts claim? Let's find out.
High Fructose Corn Syrup – The Real Deal
The trouble with high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is that it is not metabolized by the body in the same way as honey, sugar, and fruit is. Obesity in the US has reached epidemic proportions, and HFCS has been a very big contributor. Not only does HFCS boost fat storage, but animal studies indicate a link between increased consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and health problems like diabetes and high cholesterol.
In the decades since High Fructose Corn Syrup's introduction, it has crept into the food stream at almost every level. Statistics reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition state that consumption of HFCS has increased 1000% from 1970 to 1990.
It is everywhere today in the American cuisine. All sodas in the Untied States use varying amounts of HFCS in their recipes. Candy, breakfast cereals, and juice cocktails are all loaded with high fructose corn syrup. It is even found in places where no one would suspect it to be like some whole grain breads, peanut butter, and yogurt. In fact, HFCS represents 40% of all sweeteners added to foods in the Untied States.
Isn't It Natural Since It's Made From Corn?
Even though corn is the parent substance from which high fructose corn syrup is made, this does not mean that the end product in any way resembles its parent. The nutritive value of the corn is stripped away in processing and is all but void in the end product. Kids might try to argue that the strawberry jam they eat on their toast is made from berries and is therefore a healthy food. Their petition is no more valid than anyone else who tries to claim that HFCS is good for you because the sugars in it came from what was once an ear of corn.
In soft drinks, HFCS is made from approximately 55% fructose and 45% glucose. This unhealthy and very unnatural combination has many disastrous effects on our health. Today Americans consume more HFCS than sugar. It’s interesting to note that there is a direct correlation to the rise of obesity in the U.S. and Americans' increased consumption of HFCS.
Support For the Anti-HFCS Movement
According to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the human body produces more fat from fructose than from other kinds of sugars. In a research article published in the Journal of Nutrition, six healthy people were put through three different tests.
In the first test, they drank only 100% glucose. In the 2nd test, they consumed half glucose and half fructose, and in the third test they drank a combination of 25% glucose and 75% fructose. The tests were double-blind and random, which means that neither the evaluator nor the subjects knew which items were the controls (This kind of testing reduces error, bias and self-deception). All the subjects ate a normal lunch approximately four hours later.
The researchers concluded that lipogenesis, production where the body converts sugars into body fat, increased significantly in the test subjects who consumed fructose as a replacement for as little as half of the glucose.
Additional findings stated that fructose consumed at breakfast altered the way the body processed the food eaten at lunch by forcing the liver to increase storage of lunch fats that could have been utilized in other ways.
In Defense of High Fructose Corn Syrup
With all of what we've just gone over in consideration, you may be wondering how we can possibly make a case in favor of HFCS. The reality is that in recent years, research has not favored the anti-HFCS movement as strongly as initially expected. Recent research has not conclusively found a link between HFCS consumption and a higher risk for obesity.
Some of the research that took aim at HFCS can also be called into question. For example, one could argue that the study discussed above isn't reliable because only six participants were involved. Whether you choose to seriously consider the results of a six-person study is up to you, but it's worth considering that a small group is less likely to be an accurate reflection of the wider population.
Rather than blaming HFCS alone, the blame has shifted to super-sized foods and items with higher calories. Over the past three decades, commercial food options have gotten larger. Between massive sodas at fast food restaurants and party-sized bags of chips, it is easier than ever to over-consume. Recent research has labeled HFCS as more of a scapegoat than the exact problem.
HFCS is now seen as no more of a threat to one's health than regular sugar. That means that you should be consuming it in moderation, rather than avoiding it entirely. Consumption of unhealthy food and drink has risen in the past two decades, leading to a rapid and concerning rise in obesity. By managing your own intake of calories and other macros, you'll be able to maintain a healthy weight.
Some may say that this rise in consumption in both the areas of industry use and human consumption are viewed as no cause for alarm. But they are. Rises in epidemic proportions in obesity and serious health declines have mirrored HFCS increased use. In order to lose weight or avoid obesity, High Fructose Corn Syrup needs to be moderated in your diet. Moderation is key with everything, and HFCS is no exception.
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