HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup …. Oh So Bad!!!!!
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is one of the most widely used sweeteners in the USA. Fructose, it is a cheap sweetener usually derived from corn, and it is used in thousands of food products and soft drinks. Just recently you might have heard of the idea that Coca-Cola is producing a coke with “Real” sugar? Not HFCS? Why? Everybody uses it so it can’t be bad, right?
What studies have been revealing (really since many many years) is actually quite frightening. The only thing more frightening might be the powerful suppression these research studies have been dealt from the big players of the industry (such as Coca Cola). The pressure is on, however, and it appears that finally these studies slowly but persistently are breaking through. A super interesting book is the book ‘Salt Sugar Fat’ by Michael Moss (1). The article ”You Really Can’t Eat Just One, and Here’s the Reason” is a pretty good quick overview of some of the key points he is making. (2)
For now, I will leave my opinion on my research about the industry and its impact on our health for another article. I will reference it here once it is complete.
So back to HFCS and related fructose sugars……
In a nutshell…. Excessive fructose consumption can cause metabolic damage and triggers the early stages of diabetes and heart disease.
Dr. Richard Johnson also does a fabulous job of comprehensively reviewing this important topic in his new book The Fat Switch (3). In the study, over the course of 10 weeks, 16 volunteers on a controlled diet including high levels of fructose produced new fat cells around their heart, liver, and other digestive organs. They also showed signs of food-processing abnormalities linked to diabetes and heart disease. Another group of volunteers on the same diet, but with glucose sugar replacing fructose, did not have these problems. Fructose is a major contributor to:
- Insulin resistance and obesity (one leads to the other which leads to the other on this one)
- Elevated blood pressure (4)
- Elevated triglycerides and elevated LDL (the bad cholesterol)
- Depletion of vitamins and minerals (it sucks out your nutrients when it demands from your body to be processed)
- Cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancer, arthritis, and even gout.. Especially with cancer… it literally apparently feeds the cancer cells (4).
It isn’t that fructose itself is bad — it is the MASSIVE DOSES you’re exposed to that make it dangerous. There are two reasons fructose is so damaging:
- Your body metabolizes fructose in a much different way from glucose. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver.
- People are consuming fructose in enormous quantities, which has made the negative effects much more profound.
Food and beverage manufacturers began switching their sweeteners from sucrose (table sugar) to corn syrup in the 1970s when they discovered that HFCS was not only far cheaper to make, but is also about 20% sweeter than table sugar. HFCS is either 42% or 55% fructose, and sucrose is 50% fructose, so it’s really a wash in terms of sweetness.
Finally, fructose has a much higher rate at which it is converted to fat because the body can just not use it the same way it can use glucose. UGH!!!!
1. Moss,M., 2013. Salt, sugar, fat : how the foodgiants hooked us: First edition. New York : Random House,  ©2013.