High fructose corn syrup is evil. It is an addictive fake sugar product that makes you fat. It may be the worst food additive ever created. Avoid it at all costs. Here is what you must know about it.
The Fructose Myth
First the basics. Fructose is a simple sugar that gets its name because it is the main sugar in fruit. It also occurs in stems, in leaves, in roots and other underground parts, and in nectar. Fructose is one of the two component sugars of sucrose, or common table sugar. The other is glucose. Of these three, fructose is the sweetest.
Now the myth: Fructose is a better choice for dietary health than other sugars because it has the lowest glycemic index. It does, indeed have a very low glycemic index of 19, compared with 100 for glucose and 68 for sucrose. However, it is by far the worst possible sugar for dietary health.
The glycemic index is merely a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. As such, it is an arbitrary number that has nothing to do with the true caloric values and actual metabolic fates of different carbohydrates in the body. It is a big mistake to think that the glycemic index has any bearing on how sugars are metabolized.
The key for understanding the effect of dietary fructose on health is its impact on the liver, not on levels of blood sugar. Unlike glucose, fructose passes directly to the liver. The liver converts it into triglycerides (fat) and ships it out for storage.
This means that fructose has its greatest impact in raising triglyceride levels. Scientists call this fructose-induced lipogenesis, which just means that fructose leads to fat. Credit for this discovery goes back to 1916. Substantial research throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s documents how it works.
One of the hundreds of observations that explode the fructose myth (i.e., it is a myth that it is better for health than other sugars) is this: Research in 1992 on diabetic patients consuming a high fructose diet for just one month showed a 10 percent increase in LDL cholesterol. This is comparable to what happens by consuming saturated fats.
That is enough about fructose. This is a huge subject that could be a book all by itself. I think that you get the idea, though.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is Even Worse
Knowing what we know about fructose, and have known for almost a century, we might justifiably be a bit surprised that high fructose corn syrup has become so widely accepted in the U.S. as a sweetener in hundreds of foods and beverages. This is just marketing propaganda for the ubiquitous and highly subsidized corn industry, and I will leave it at that.
So why is HFCS even worse than fructose alone? First consider how HFCS is made. It takes a 15-step process, starting with extracting starch from corn kernels and taking it through a series of stainless steel vats and tubes, requiring a dozen different mechanical processes and chemical reactions, including at least one step that uses a genetically modified (GMO) enzyme. The result is a mixture that is 90 percent fructose, which is then combined with regular 100 percent glucose corn syrup to produce a clear syrupy liquid that is roughly as sweet as table sugar. This is a mixture that does not occur naturally in corn.
Is HFCS derived from corn? Yes. Is it natural? No, it is not.
The crux of why HFCS is worse than fructose alone is its rampant use as an additive to foods and beverages. Such high demand for HFCS is a boon to the corn industry even though HFCS is a bane to human health. You are more challenged than ever to find sweetened foods and beverages that are not sweetened with HFCS.
How to Avoid HFCS
Let’s be clear on this. Your good health depends on avoiding this pervasive additive. You have only one main defense, and that is to read ingredients labels to see what the sweetener is. You must even read labels of products that may not seem to be sweetened. These include salsas, dressings, processed meats, flavorings of all kinds, and lots more. Read the ingredients labels!
Then take action. Specifically, put any product that you find to contain HFCS right back on the shelf. After all, your first loyalty is to support your own good health and that of your family, not the financial health of the corn industry.
Avoiding high fructose corn syrup,
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