The Simple Reasons To Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup Like The Plague
And why sugar is the real reason you’re gaining weight
If one food can be considered the jack-of-all-trades, it’s corn. It can be a vegetable when eaten on the cob, a whole grain when the kernels are removed, and fruit because of its seeds. Corn is love, corn is life; and in the 1970s, corn became a processed sugar too.
Enter high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). A liquid fructose-glucose sweetener that is extracted from corn and substituted for sugar in processed foods.
It was created by biochemists Richard O. Marshall and Earl R. Kooi when they created the enzyme glucose isomerase. This enzyme was able to turn the glucose in corn syrup into the much sweeter fructose (the sugar found in fruit). It wasn’t long before Americans were hooked.
High fructose corn syrup was in our sodas, juice, yogurt, bread, ketchup, breakfast cereals, and snack foods, to name a few. Author and journalist Michael Pollan wrote about the trouble of high fructose corn syrup a little over a decade ago in his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
“Today it [HFCS] is the most valuable food product refined from corn, accounting for 530 million bushels every year. (A bushel of corn yields 33 pounds of fructose.)”
High fructose corn syrup was undoubtedly a problem leading up to Pollan’s book. In the early 2000s, Americans were consuming upwards of 60 pounds of HFCS per person every year. That’s not accounting for sucrose (table sugar) we consumed in sweets or fructose we got from fruits.
But is HFCS still a problem today? And what’s all the hubbub about it in the first place?
All the Hubbub
The problem with high fructose corn syrup is that it contains both glucose and fructose. Glucose is the primary source of energy our body uses. In short, it’s our blood sugar and whenever we eat carbs they get turned into glucose. This is why marathon runners carb-up days before a race.
Fructose is a bit different; it’s processed by the liver like alcohol. The liver can only process so much fructose before it turns the added sugar into fat known as triglycerides.
This is what makes HFCS so dangerous — since it contains both glucose and fructose — if we aren’t careful about how much we consume we may have just placed a hefty burden on our liver. Burden your liver like that too many times and you’re on your way to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or type 2 diabetes.
Although fructose is contained in fruit, don’t be alarmed. Since fruit contains fiber, it slows the metabolizing process of fructose and makes it a bit easier on your liver. HFCS on the other hand is in many snacks and junk foods that don’t have much if any fiber to aid digestion.
For this reason, many health experts argue HFCS is worse than processed table sugar.
However, a 2014 Nutrients report found HFCS-sweetened diets had the same effects on obese participants who were on processed sugar diets. Meaning HFCS wasn’t the super devil that some researchers were trying to make it.
It’s important to note, however, the researchers in this study were funded by the Corn Refiners Association. This organization has also tried to change the name “high fructose corn syrup” to “corn sugar” due to HFCS sounding like a scary title. “Corn sugar” was rejected by The Food and Drug Administration.
But Are We Still Consuming Too Much High Fructose Corn Syrup?
Short answer, no, but it’s complicated. HFCS consumption has fallen 40 percent since 2000 and is continuing to fall according to the United States Department of Agriculture data (USDA). Yet our cravings for sugar have not subsided, they’ve actually increased during the same period.
The average American consumes 17 teaspoons (71.14 grams) every day according to the USDA. That translates into about 57 pounds of added sugar consumed each year. That’s about 11 newborn babies of added sugar that we shouldn’t be eating.
According to the American Heart Association, men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day, and women no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams or 100 calories). Most Americans are doubling the amount of added sugar they should be consuming.
HFCS is still very bad for your health, but thankfully we aren’t drowning ourselves in it like we were in the early 2000s. That said, sugar is still the enemy and has a profound effect on our minds and bodies. Stay vigilant, read ingredient labels, and avoid HFCS and sugar like the plague.
“Sugar does make people happy, but then you fall off the edge after a few minutes, so I’ve really pretty much cut it out of my diet. Except for cupcakes. I like those.” — David Lynch
Originally published at https://yardcouch.com