For those of you who haven’t heard, the The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) has petitioned the U.S. FDA to allow manufacturers the option of using the term “corn sugar” instead of “high fructose corn syrup”. Consumers have gotten pretty smart about looking at the labels and realizing HFCS is in EVERYTHING and we want to spread the word about the change of name for this sugar substitute. “Everything in moderation” is definitely a great rule of thumb, one we practice regularly at our house but we want to make sure the FACTS are getting out there because with a slew of commercials saying “there’s nothing wrong with HFCS and it works the same as sugar to your body” it can be overwhelming and confusing! The reality is that because it is so cheap to produce, it has been added to nearly all processed foods. The excessive consumption of fructose, such as HFCS, is a huge driving factor behind a number of health epidemics in America today including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Here are a few facts for everyone to help with the confusion about HFCS:
- Part of what makes HFCS such an unhealthy product is that it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar.
- Fructose and glucose are metabolized differently in your body:
- Glucose is metabolized in every cell of your body and is converted to blood glucose, while all fructose is metabolized in your liver, where it’s quickly converted to fat and cholesterol. (When a diet includes a large amount of fructose, it can therefore create fatty liver, and even cirrhosis.)
- Fructose is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar, and, because most fructose is consumed in liquid form (soda), its negative metabolic effects are further magnified.
- Most fats are formed in your liver, and when sugar enters your liver, it decides whether to store it, burn it or turn it into fat. However, researchers have discovered that fructose bypasses this process and turns directly into fat.
- The current annual consumption of sugar is 141 pounds per person, and 63 pounds of that is HFCS. It isn’t that fructose itself is bad — it is the MASSIVE DOSES you’re exposed to that make it dangerous. The main factor that makes fructose so dangerous is the fact that people are consuming it in absolutely MASSIVE DOSES. This is largely related to technology advances in the mid 70s that made it so cheap to produce. The vast majority of processed and restaurant foods are now loaded with it, so it is very difficult to avoid.
- Fructose does not stimulate your insulin secretion, nor enhance leptin production. (Leptin is a hormone thought to be involved in appetite regulation.) Because insulin and leptin act as key signals in regulating how much food you eat, as well as your body weight, this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased food intake and weight gain. **
What about fructose from fruits?
- Fresh fruits also contain fructose, BUT whole fruits also contain fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that reduce the hazardous effects of the fructose.
- Nearly every canned or bottled commercial juice are actually worse than soda, because a glass of juice is loaded with fructose, and a lot of the antioxidants are lost in the making.
So tell me, if HFCS is in your cereal, bread, maple syrup, jam, juice, peanut butter, lunch condiments, meats, tomato sauces, etc. etc. How is that eating it in moderation?! Take a look in your cupboard and see for yourself – it’s in EVERYTHING! Now a days there are lots of alternatives available if you are looking for it. We started really paying attention to HFCS I was pregnant with Luke and in the last two years we’ve learned to make healthier choices and eat less processed foods. It isn’t always easy and we do think about it often when we go out to eat, so we try to make those special treats every now and again in an attempt to really live by the “everything in moderation” rule. It’s also worth noting that when we were living in London, England (probably most of Europe) you would never find HFCS in ANY of their foods. HFCS was invented in 1966 in Japan and introduced to the American market in 1975. Food and beverage manufacturers began switching their sweeteners from sucrose (table sugar) to corn syrup when they discovered that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was far cheaper to make — sucrose costs about three times as much as HFCS.**
Sugar’s rise to power was really an accidental by-product of three political winds, beginning with the Nixon administration:
- In 1972, Richard Nixon wanted to reduce food costs as part of his “war on poverty.” He partnered with the USDA to do whatever means necessary to bring food costs down.
- In 1975, HFCS was introduced, replacing sugar because it was cheap and readily available.
- In the mid 1970s, dietary fats were blamed for heart disease, giving rise to the “low-fat craze.” Market response was an explosion of processed convenience foods, all nonfat and low fat, most of which tasted like sawdust unless sugar was added. Fructose was used to make fat-free products more palatable. Yet, as the low-fat craze spread, so did rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity — the very illnesses you thought you were preventing.**
In conclusion, if you want to improve your health, you need to avoid fructose, especially HFCS, which is a highly processed, unnatural form of fructose. This is especially important if you are overweight, have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure as fructose will clearly worsen all of these conditions.