Sunday, February 28, 2010

Don't believe the hype about High-Fructose Corn Syrup

I've been seeing the new ad campaign lately where someone says, "You don't want to feed your kids that product. It has high fructose corn syrup."

Then the other person says, "So - what's wrong with that?"

First person says, "Ummm.... I guess nothing."   WRONG answer. 

In case you want to be armed with a response next time you need to make a decision about a food choice, here is some of the TRUTH about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Be informed - do your own research. There is a lot of information on the internet about the dangers of HFCS.

Why HFCS Is Worse for You Than Sugar

High-fructose corn syrup is not the same as the corn syrup you buy to make pies. Whereas regular corn syrup is all glucose, HFCS is composed of half glucose and half fructose.

Says George A. Bray, former director of Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, "Fructose is absorbed differently [than other sugars]. It doesn't register in the body metabolically the same way that glucose does." [Glucose is created in our bodies when we digest carbohydrates.]

When glucose is consumed, a set of reactions occur in the body allowing it to be used as energy, and production of leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite and fat storage, is increased. Meanwhile, ghrelin, a stomach hormone which is thought to help hunger go away, is reduced with HFCS.

So what does that mean?  You still feel hungry.  You want to eat / drink more. 
The food manufacturers are very happy!! 

Many experts have suggested that HFCS, particularly those in soft drinks, are at least partly responsible for the obesity epidemic in America.

    Drink a Lot of Sweet Drinks? Your Weight May be at Risk but So Much More!

When HFCS is ingested, it travels straight to the liver which turns the sugary liquid into fat, and unlike other carbohydrates HFCS does not cause the pancreas to produce insulin; which acts as a hunger quenching signal to the brain. So we get stuck in a vicious cycle, eating food that gets immediately stored as fat and never feeling full. 

Fructose is not from fruit. It's a commercial, refined sugar.

In fact, a trail of medical studies dating back a quarter of a century doesn't paint a terribly sweet picture for fructose. High fructose consumption has been fingered as a causative factor in heart disease. It raises blood levels of cholesterol and another type of fat, triglyceride. It makes blood cells more prone to clotting, and it may also accelerate the aging process.

In medicine, the first alarms about the link between sugar consumption and heart disease were sounded in the late 1960's by John Yudkin, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus at Queen Elizabeth College, London, and an expert in the health effects of sugar. At the time, he was chairman of the department of nutrition at Queen Elizabeth College, London. Disturbed by inconsistencies in the evidence linking animal fats to heart disease, Yudkin began searching for another dietary factor.

An expert in carbohydrate metabolism, he initially focused on sucrose consumption [table sugar]. In laboratory and human tests, he found that sucrose increased blood levels of cholesterol, triglyceride, uric acid, insulin, and cortisol - all associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Sucrose also raised blood pressure and increased the fragility of blood platelet cells, making them more prone to clotting.

As dramatic as those findings were, the real surprise came when Yudkin substituted fructose for sucrose in his experiments. "The effects of eating sucrose in the quantities we eat are magnified with fructose. Fructose is the dangerous part," he said. In contrast, glucose did little more than cause cavities.

    Along with helping Americans pack on more pounds, HFCS has been linked to other health problems, including:

  • Increased levels of triglycerides, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. A study by the University of Minnesota found that fructose "produced significantly higher [blood] levels" of triglycerides in men than did glucose.
  • Accelerated bone loss. A study by the USDA, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that fructose may alter the body's balance of magnesium, leading to increased bone loss.
A review of multiple studies by Havel and colleagues, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that, in animals, consuming large amounts of HFCS:
    o Induced insulin resistance
    o Impaired glucose tolerance
    o Produced high levels of insulin
    o Boosted a dangerous fat in the blood
    o Caused high blood pressure

    If You Want to Give Up HFCS ...

The first thing to do is to give up all soft drinks and other sweetened beverages that contain it. Then start checking labels meticulously. Even products that aren't thought of as "sweet' often contain it (like croutons and flavored almond slices for salads).

Fortunately, as more and more consumers opt to stay away from HFCS, there are product alternatives out there. Organic pasta sauce and ketchup, for instance, are much less likely to contain HFCS than regular varieties. Look for them at your favorite health food store or even in the "natural" section of your local grocery store.

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