The Risk Of High-Fructose Corn Syrup

By Lisa Shanken | Healthy Living

Take a sip of soft drink, and you’ve just tasted high fructose corn syrup, one of its main ingredients. High-fructose corn syrup, or HCFS, is a mixture of sucrose and fructose, and is popular in a wide range of sweetened food. Sadly, new research has linked HCFS to an increase in obesity, diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis. HCFS is so common in processed foods and over-consumed by the average person that many health experts believe that it will support increasing rates of metabolic disease in the future.

Fructose vs. Glucose vs. Sucrose

Candies have high fructose levels.

Over consumption of fructose has its dangers.  Fructose is metabolized differently than glucose, which is a simple sugar derived from the breakdown of carbohydrates and is a primary source of ready energy. Sucrose (table sugar) is made up of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose.  Thus, excessive sucrose intake can also contribute to high daily fructose consumption.

Glucose can be metalized and converted to ATP and is readily “burned” for energy.  When glucose is consumed, the body releases a hormone called leptin that helps control appetite and fat storage. However, fructose has no such helpful hormones and encourages overeating. It is one of the key food factors that have made obesity such a problem in America.

Fructose is more rapidly metabolized in the liver, flooding metabolic pathways and leading to increased triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood), and raising the risk of heart disease. The increase of fat stored in the liver can also cause liver disease. Manufacturers choose HCFS over sucrose in their products because it it much cheaper, therefore making their own overall profits much larger.

Key Fructose Facts

Here are other important facts about fructose:

  • Dietary intake of fructose, particularly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), has dramatically increased in the US in recent decades. Increased HFCS consumption has paralleled increasing rates of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and other conditions associated with poor lifestyle habits.
  • High-fructose corn syrup is found in sweetened carbonated soft drinks as well as in many packaged foods such as cakes, cookies, jams, jellies, and crackers.
  • Excess fructose intake has been associated with adverse health effects such as metabolic syndrome, elevated triglyceride levels, hypertension, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, excess uric acid levels (associated with gout), and elevated levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs; linked with aging and complications of diabetes).
  • Minimizing the intake of dietary fructose is essential to mitigating its potentially dangerous effects. Sources of dietary fructose include HFCS, fruit juices, honey, and table sugar (sucrose; comprising fructose and glucose).

Fight the Fructose (Or At Least Exchange It For Something Else)

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