Thursday, May 7, 2009


Disclaimer: So for the past 24 hours I have read countless blogs and articles about High Fructose Corn Syrup, in addition to the discussions that I have at school about it, I feel like my braining is swimming with information that I need to release at this time. So this in essence is going to by my corn puke post... ewwww that sounds gross!!! HOWEVER, there are a few different ways in which I could present this information. I could present both sides of the story in a very unbiased fashion and encourage my readers to further research the topic for themselves and decide. Or I could present a completely biased opinion that expresses my views on the matter. I have chosen the later simply because this is my blog and I can write anything that I want on here. Yet I will say that I do encourage discussion on the matter. I should also note that while I do believe HFCS to be a contributing factor in the obesity epidemic in our country I am in no way claiming that it is the SOLE culprit... obesity is a much more complex issue.

I think I have previously expressed my feelings about HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). Basically I am one of the many people who have deemed it an evil food additive/sweetener. I think it is junk... and I don't want it in my food!!!! There are many people who will tell you, Oh it's made from corn and corn is natural so that makes it good (see these commercials put out by the corn growers association for more lies).
Stop me if I'm wrong but doesn't the word "Natural" imply that it comes from nature? I don't know if this is news to any of you out there but fructose does not come from corn naturally... people in large factories do make it.
So here's the science (and I just realized why by Biochemistry class was worthwhile)....

Corn is grown and processed into corn syrup which is almost entirely glucose (molecule shown below).

Next enzymes are added to turn glucose molecules into fructose (molecule shown below)

This changes the syrup to be roughly 90% fructose. And then manufacturers add glucose back in to give it the common ratios used in foods (HFCS 55 which is 55% fructose and HFCS 42). And I know you are saying to yourself well what is so bad about that... I mean Sucrose (common table sugar) is a combination of fructose and glucose molecules as well (molecule shown below)

Well here is the kicker, historically humans consumed about 16 -20 grams of fructose a day in the fruits they ate, however today the typical American diet contains 85 to 100 grams as High Fructose Corn Syrup is in a plethora of foods.
Fructose is metabolized in the body different than other sugars...

Basically fructose is absorbed into the body and processed by the liver. However if you notice in the upper right hand corner of this diagram there is "no control" mechanism for fructose. Meaning when you eat a ton of it there is nothing in your body that says "I think I've had just enough!" The problem is that HFCS inhibits leptin secretion, so you never get the message that you’re full. And it never shuts off gherin, so, even though you have food in your stomach, you constantly get the message that you’re hungry. Meaning that if you keep eating it you will eventually deplete the enzymes in your liver and can cause of build up of VLDL (which is the way your body transports fat around).
The exposure of the liver to such large quantities of fructose leads to rapid stimulation of lipogenesis (fat creation) and TG (triglyceride) accumulation, which in turn contributes to reduced insulin sensitivity and hepatic insulin resistance/glucose intolerance.
Hmmmm interesting that Obesity is on the rise and people are getting diabetes like crazy... Similarly If you plot the rise of HFCS in the American diet and compare it to a plot of the rise in American obesity you should see an amazing correlation.
SO now I will bullet point the reasons why I have decided not to eat HFCS because bullet points make things more interesting to read....
  • I trust the opponents of HFCS because really they have nothing to gain, most of them are educated people who want to take care of their bodies and feed their children good food. They are looking for answers to some of the problems that are plaguing our country and looking to prevent them.
  • The corn growers association and food manufacturers have a lot to lose however. If people reject HFCS they will lose lots of money. HFCS is cheaper to produce (because of government subsidies and sugar tariffs in the US) and because it is sweeter then sucrose they can use less of it to get the same effects. Oh course they want you to believe it is harmless!
  • Studies in rats have shown that taking fructose in excess can cause problems including anemia, high cholesterol, heart hypertrophy, and delayed sexual development
  • Massive corn growing is bad for the environment. The genetically modified corn used to produce HFCS requires more pesticides and chemical fertilizers than natural corn. It is also not a crop that is rotated, which severely depletes top soil quality.
  • Making HFCS requires a lot of processing, and therefore energy. Other sweeteners can be produced with less input of energy and chemicals than HFCS.
  • Fructose gets converted to fat more readily in the liver than any other sugar.
  • Many beverages and other processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Regularly including these products in your diet has the potential to promote obesity — which, in turn, promotes conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
These past couple weeks I have been shocked to find it in more of my favorite foods. I seriously feel betrayed when I see it listed amongst the ingredients.

Here are some of the culprits...

SO delicious with Hummus, and yet so wickedly full of HFCS,
And perhaps most disappointingly....

You will note that I did not give you links to all of the articles that I read or gave references to all of the claims I made... frankly that would make this feel like a school assignment and I blog for fun and release. If you want to know if what I have just said is legit, well you are going to have to research it... 854,000 links to click if you google search it, that should keep you busy.

I am cutting myself off from the time being of researching this because I need to study for finals.


Sara said...

Thanks for the info, Tacy. I found it quite interesting. I read something awhile back on how corn really is in almost EVERYTHING. If I can find it again, I'll post it on here so you can take a look.

The Atomic Mom said...

You should make your own hummus...really it's so much better than the junk in the store.

I think HFCS is not as bad as people think it is. It's in junk food and processed food, which sadly the average American eats way too much of. My solution is to eat a more natural, whole food type of diet and then the problem is gone. As with anything, moderation is the key.

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