We’ve all heard that high fructose corn syrup is bad for you. It causes weight gain, or it causes diabetes. But what exactly is it about high fructose corn syrup that’s bad for us? Here are 3 reasons why high fructose corn syrup causes weight gain.
1. It Turns Directly into Fat
When sugar is introduced to the liver, the body decides whether to store it as fat or to burn it as energy. However, fructose, including high fructose corn syrup, bypasses this step altogether. Once consumed, high fructose corn syrup goes to the liver, releasing an enzymes that stores it as fat in the body.
While it’s true that sugar contains fructose as well, it’s formed a little bit differently. Sugar contains 50% glucose and 50% fructose. The fructose and glucose molecules bind together as a single molecule. This makes it chemically different than high fructose corn syrup, which usually contains around 55% fructose and 45% glucose molecules. These molecules, however, aren’t bound together as they are in sugar. This difference causes the body to treat them differently when they reach your liver.
2. It Doesn’t Give You a Sense of Fullness
Consuming high fructose corn syrup does not increase your production of insulin and leptin, both of which are key hormones in regulating your feeling of fullness. Because of this, your body doesn’t reach the level of fullness that it should when you have eaten enough. This can cause you to overeat, taking in more calories than you burn for the day, and your body stores that excess as fat.
3. Highly Used in Processed Foods and Beverages
High fructose corn syrup was introduced in the 1970s as a response to the rising costs of sugar. It gave companies a cheaper source of sweetener, and quickly became the sweetener of choice for most companies. Because it is cheap and helps increase the shelf life of products, high fructose corn syrup is found in many processed foods and beverages. It’s become such a major part of the American food source that it is estimated that the average American eats 60 pounds of it annually.
While this is a more subtle danger, it’s a problem because too much of any sugar can cause weight gain. High fructose corn syrup isn’t as immediately recognizable as sugar is, and so it’s consumed in excess and causes weight gain. Many times we’re eating this ingredient and not even realizing it. Next time you’re shopping for groceries, check the labels of your favorite foods. You’ll be surprised how many of them contain high fructose corn syrup.
High fructose corn syrup is not inherently evil. When eaten in moderation with a balanced diet of the vitamins and minerals your body needs, you may never see any weight loss. However, it’s important to understand the dangers this ingredient poses, so that you can plan your diet accordingly. Education goes a long way!