I recently reviewed a product called Soda Stream and its variety of syrup flavors. One of the factors that I liked about the system was that the syrup did not contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It contained Sucralose (Splenda) which I complained about but that’s another post in itself.
I always knew HFCS was bad for many reasons but now, researchers from Princeton University determined ‘why’ HFCS is making America fat.
According to the Princeton Research team,
Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.
What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there at least two clear differences between them. First, sucrose is composed of equal amounts of the two simple sugars — it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose — but the typical high-fructose corn syrup used in this study contained 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Larger sugar molecules called higher saccharides make up the remaining 3 percent of the sweetener. Second, as a result of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the fructose molecules in the sweetener are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. In contrast, every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized.
What does this mean and why does HFCS contributes to making the rats becoming more fat?
The rats in the Princeton study became obese by drinking high-fructose corn syrup, but not by drinking sucrose. The researchers for the study surmised that, “excess fructose is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles.”
So, as the name suggests, the high amount of fructose in HFCS is actually being converted to fat and being added around the abdomen and triglycerides in the blood stream. High-fructose corn syrup is found in a wide range of foods and beverages. Actually, you’d be surprised how many types of food contain HFCS. And when you are eating or drinking these types of foods daily, especially children, it’s no surprise that we are becoming obese. On average, Americans consume 60 pounds of the sweetener per person every year, and more if you eat packaged foods and snacks!
High-fructose corn syrup was introduced 40 years ago as a cost-effective sweetener in the American diet. Coincidentally, rates of obesity in the U.S. have skyrocketed since then, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1970, around 15 percent of the U.S. population met the definition for obesity; today, roughly one-third of the American adults are considered obese, the CDC reported. (YIKES!!)
The new research complements previous work led by Hoebel and Avena demonstrating that sucrose can be addictive, having effects on the brain similar to some drugs of abuse. “Our findings lend support to the theory that the excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup found in many beverages may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic,” Avena said.
In my recent quest to eliminate sugars from my kids diet for their eczema, we eliminated HFCS too since we don’t buy packaged foods. I mean, our diet has always been better than an average American households but we did buy condiments like ketchup, mustard, fruit juices, etc. But then, when I started reading the labels to see if any of them contained wheat, I was surprised to find how HFCS was one of the first three ingredients in many of the items I used to buy. I immediately stopped buying them. Now, I buy organic condiments with no HFCS.
I also learned that in FDA went back and forth about whether to ban products from calling themselves ‘natural’ with the pressures from the sugar industry and the giant food conglomerates. But according to Natural News, in 2009, FDA has indeed decided that any products containing HFCS can not be called ‘Natural” because the process of converting to HFCS is NOT natural. So, now I’ll be reading those labels too!