Sunday, January 11, 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity

It's no coincidence that our nation's rate of obesity – and related diseases such as diabetes – has skyrocketed since the 1970s, when high fructose corn syrup became a mainstay of the American diet. A sweetener manufactured as a cheap replacement for sugar, it's everywhere: in the things you'd expect it to be in (soft drinks, cookies, ice cream) and some places you may not expect (canned soup, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, cranberry juice).

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is metabolized differently than sugar, blocking the action of insulin, which is responsible for regulating the body's use and storage of sugar for energy. It stimulates the appetite and lessens our ability to recognize when we're full, leading to weight gain – and contributes to conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. HFCS is processed by the liver, which has difficulty metabolizing large amounts of it; this increased workload ultimately puts the liver at risk.

To cut down on your family's intake of HFCS, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

• Read labels – even on products that aren't sweet.

• Avoid fast food, as it can contain lots of HFCS.

• Watch what you're drinking – most sweet beverages (including a lot of fruit juices) contain HFCS. When in doubt, drink water.

• Just because a product is labeled “natural” doesn't mean it's free of HFCS!

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Blogger Cynthia1770 said...

My google alert for HFCS picked up your artice. Good advice presented.
Here's another reason to avoid HFCS, especially HFCS-55 used to sweeten beverages (soda, lemonade,
flavored teas, and, ironically, sports quenchers). HFCS-55 (55%fructose: 45% glucose) appears to have a similar fructose:glucose ratio as table sugar, sucrose, 50:50, but it does not. 55/45=1.22 That means that everytime a teenager chugs a Coke, Pepsi, or Gatorade his liver is reaping the health "benefits" of 22% extra fructose, compared to glucose. For the life of me I can't fathom why the food wizards at Cargill didn't choose HFCS-50 for beverages. At least that would have mimicked sucrose. Perhaps they found out that HFCS-55 was a little sweeter, a little more addictive.

January 16, 2009 at 12:05 PM  

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