High fructose corn syrup has been getting a lot of bad press lately. But, isn't it just another form of sugar? Is it really so bad? While researchers differ, all are united in the belief that we are consuming too much high fructose corn syrup.
What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
High fructose corn syrup is not a substance found in nature. It is created when the sugar (glucose) in corn starch is changed to another form of sugar (fructose). The resulting substance is high fructose corn syrup - a combination of glucose and fructose.
Why is this done? High fructose corn syrup has a longer shelf life than sugar, and it is less expensive as well. Because of this, it is desirable to manufacturers of various types of cookies, candies, sodas and other processed foods. Since it became widely used in by food manufacturers thirty years ago, it has found its way into many items we eat on a daily basis.
Leads to Obesity
No definitive studies have proved it, but evidence suggests that consuming high fructose corn syrup can lead to obesity. Researchers believe it is a low-satiety food. This means that since it is a fake sugar, it doesn't naturally trigger hormones in your body that would normally tell you you're full.
As you eat more food (whether or not they contain high fructose corn syrup), you store more fat. This in turns makes you more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
We've already learned that high fructose corn syrup is manufactured and does not occur in nature. Does this matter, health-wise? Researchers are uncertain. Some feel that "sugar is sugar," regardless of whether it's cane sugar or manufactured high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Others are more wary of HFCS, fearing that our bodies may not have developed the mechanism for safely metabolizing it.
The molecules in HFCS are not bonded to each other like the molecules in sugar are - they are "free," and intestinal enzymes don't need to unbond the two sugar types. There is debate on whether or not the molecular structure of HFCS is detrimental to the digestive organs; possibly raising triglyceride and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels and lowering HDL ("good") cholesterol levels, possibly leading to kidney damage as well.
Sugar Is Sugar
Despite the possible negatives of HFCS, researchers are divided as to whether it's worse than regular sugar. They all agree, however, that Americans are eating too much sugar - no matter what the form. Too much sugar consumption of any type leads to too many calories, too much weight and various diseases.
If you want to avoid high fructose corn syrup and other sugars in your diet, try these tips:
- Limit your consumption of processed foods. Easier said than done in this day and age, but homemade is healthier.
- Drink less soda.
- Drink fresh juice or 100% juice drinks rather than juice cocktails. Check sugar content on fruit drinks; just because they're "fruit" doesn't mean they're healthy.
- Choose canned fruits in their own juices rather than packed in syrup.
Less sugar and HFCS consumption will mean less weight and a healthier you!