There is an abundance of contradictory information floating around regarding HFCS or high-fructose corn syrup. This super common sweetener is hidden in a variety of foods and beverages. Many ingredient listings try to disguise its inclusion since it has earned such a negative reputation.
Some sources claim that it is no worse for your body than regular table sugar and point out that both contain glucose and fructose. Unfortunately for consumers, HFCS is one of the least expensive sweeteners around. Many processed food companies rely on this ingredient because of its relative cheapness. This means that those products which contain a higher volume of sugar tend to contain HFCS, purely for commercial reasons.
Why is High-Fructose Corn Syrup Bad for Health?
The main components of what we call sugar are glucose and fructose. Our human body prefers glucose over fructose as a source of energy for itself as well as for our brain. Therefore, our body uses the available glucose very readily in the digestion process. If there is any excess of sugar, our body converts it to fat.
Fructose is not a preferred fuel and unless there is an absence of glucose, the liver will convert it to fat. The unwelcome “side effect” of the process are the toxins.
Glucose acts similarly to protein, fats and complex carbs in that it suppresses the hormone ghrelin, switching off our hunger response. Fructose does not elicit this response, so foods containing a higher ratio of fructose do not make us feel satisfied but encourage us to eat more.
So, while any excess consumption of sugar is bad for human health, fructose is considered the worst type to consume in quantity. The high-fructose in the name defines the problem – HFCS in its most commonly used formula has a higher percentage of fructose than other sweeteners such as table sugar, which still has about 50% fructose.
Studies Prove the Dangers Of HFCS
A study on rats found that those who consumed high-fructose corn syrup gained a substantial amount of extra weight compared to those with access to water sweetened only with table sugar. Both groups consumed the same number of calories.
A subsequent study tracked the rats’ weight gain over a timeframe of 6 months. The study found that the rats eating HFCS showed large increases in circulating triglycerides. This prevents the hormone leptin from signaling to your brain that you are full. The rats displayed excessive weight gain and belly fat.
These studies have rightfully pointed out the numerous negative health effects of high-fructose corn such as the development of diabetes, obesity and other disastrous health issues.
Read the Labels
The scary part is that when you start reading nutrition labels, you will see HFCS in everything from baked goods to beverages. People mistakenly choose these snack foods believing they will be good for satisfying their appetite, only to find that they are still ravenous a short time later.
For your health’s sake, it is vital to become a food detective and avoid this poison at all costs. It may take some time to determine where it is hiding in your favorite foods. Be wary of salad dressings and sauces that you commonly choose for cooking. Also, you’ll commonly find HFCS in breads, crackers, jams, peanut butter, processed meats, protein bars, granola bars and condiments.
When you are checking your labels, be on the lookout for high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as any of the following:
- Glucose syrup
- Maize syrup
- Dahlia syrup
- Tapioca syrup
- Crystalline fructose
- Fruit fructose
In Europe, it is often listed as Isoglucose and in Canada it goes by the name Glucose-fructose.
Avoid All Excessive Sugar Intake
The truth is, as the studies show, that high-fructose corn syrup is major contributor to fatty-liver disease, diabetes and obesity. For these reasons, numerous health advocates recommend avoiding it at all costs. This does not mean for a moment that any other sugar is a healthy alternative.
The finger is rightly pointed at HFCS as being damaging to human health. However, any sugar consumed in similar volume will still be dangerous.