If you read food labels in the grocery store these days, you are sure to find one ingredient on a regular basis high fructose corn syrup. Doesn’t sound too bad by the name, but what is it? The name is part misconception part reality. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a thick liquid derived from corn starch that contains fructose and glucose in about equal amounts. The advantages to HFCS are that it tastes sweeter than regular sugar (sucrose -derived from sugar beets or sugar cane), is less expensive to manufacture, and blends easier since it is a liquid. The quantity of fructose can be varied from 55 percent fructose and is used to sweeten beverages and 42 percent fructose and used mostly in baked goods. The problem with an increased amount of fructose in our diets is the way our body handles it.
Fructose is absorbed differently than other sugars. The liver must digest the fructose where glucose is metabolized by all the cells in our bodies. Because fructose is metabolized in the liver it does not cause the pancreas to secrete insulin and is more easily converted to fat than is glucose. It also does not increase leptin production which is an appetite suppressant but is does inhibit production of ghrelin which regulates food intake.
Dr. Appleton (2007) writes, “Fructose has no enzymes, vitamins, and minerals and robs the body of its micronutrient treasures in order to assimilate itself for physiological use.
1. Research showed that in subjects that had healthy glucose tolerance and those that had unhealthy glucose tolerance, fructose caused a general increase in both the total serum cholesterol and in the low density lipoproteins (LDL) in most of the subjects. This puts a person at risk for heart disease.
2. Another study showed that the very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) increased without an apparent change in high density lipoproteins (HDL). The VLDL and the LDL should be as low as possible and the HDL should be as high as possible.
3. There is a significant increase in the concentration of uric acid that is dependent on the amount of fructose digested. After glucose no significant change occurs. An increase in uric acid can be an indicator of heart disease.
4. Fructose ingestion in humans results in increases in blood lactic acid, especially in patients with preexisting acidotic conditions such as diabetes, postoperative stress, or uremia. The significance to human health is that extreme elevations cause metabolic acidosis and can result in death.
5. Fructose is absorbed primarily in the jejunum and metabolized in the liver. Fructose is converted to fatty acids by the liver at a greater rate than is glucose. When consumed in excess of dietary glucose, the liver cannot convert all of the excess of fructose in the system and it may be malabsorbed. What escapes conversion and being absorbed into the cells may be thrown out in the urine. Diarrhea can be a consequence.
6. Fructose interacts with oral contraceptives and elevates insulin levels in women on “the pill.”
7. Fructose reduced the affinity of insulin for its receptor. This is the first step for glucose to enter a cell and be metabolized. As a result, the body needs to pump out more insulin, to handle the same amount of glucose.
8. Fructose consistently produced higher kidney calcium concentrations than did glucose in a study with rats. Fructose generally induced greater urinary concentrations of phosphorus and magnesium and lowered urinary pH compared with glucose.
9. Fructose-fed subjects lose minerals. They had higher fecal excretions of iron and magnesium than did subjects fed sucrose. Apparent iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc balances tended to be more negative during the fructose feeding period as compared to balances during the sucrose feeding period.
10. Fructose inhibits copper metabolism. A deficiency in copper leads to bone fragility, anemia, defects of the connective tissue, arteries, and bone, infertility, heart arrhythmias, high cholesterol levels, heart attacks, and an inability to control blood sugar levels”
So in a nutshell, HFCS is something we can very much do without. With all the chemical, biological and genetic engineering of food these days it is no wonder we are having some of the health problems we currently experience.
Organic foods are looking so much better
Appleton, N. (2007) Fructose is No Answer for a Sweetener Retrieved May 10, 2007 from http://www.mercola.com/2002/jan/5/fructose.htm