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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad for your Health?

Recently a student asked me if high fructose corn syrup was something to avoid.   Good question as there is so much being written about high fructose corn syrup.  If you watch the commercials sponsored by the high fructose corn syrup industry, all is well and there is no difference between sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  Others have renounced high fructose corn syrup almost from day one.  So what do some of the experts have to say about high fructose corn syrup?
Is high fructose corn syrup the same as sugar?
Actually, no.  Table sugar is about half fructose and half glucose.  High fructose corn syrup has a higher ratio of fructose to glucose having 55- 65% fructose and the rest glucose.  

Does the higher fructose content of high fructose corn syrup cause health problems? 

  •  Some studies are indicating, YES.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup can significantly raise the bad cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol and raise triglyceride levels.  This happened in just 2 weeks of drinking beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.
  • Diabetes – how does high fructose corn syrup affect glucose levels? The Mayo Clinic noted the fructose in added sugar can contribute to Type 2 diabetes.  But not the fructose naturally present in fruits.  Whole fruit may even reduce diabetes risk. Thus, the fructose in banana is fine, but the fructose in soda sweetened with high fructose corn syrup would not be good for one’s health.  
 How can you reduce your intake of high fructose corn syrup?  It isn’t always easy as food manufacturers are adding high fructose corn syrup to many commonly consumed foods such as bread and catsup.   Giving up soda sweetened with high fructose corn syrup would be one step.  Read the ingredients on the label to see if high fructose corn syrup is in the product.  Start buying bread, catsup, staple foods with no high fructose corn syrup.  It may be hard to find some whole wheat hamburger buns without high fructose corn syrup but Nature’s Own 100%  whole wheat buns advertise being free of high fructose corn syrup. 

Recently, WeBMD highlighted a video in their health newsletter about high fructose corn syrup.  The video, The Skinny on What Can Make You Fat, talks about high fructose corn syrup and weight gain.  This MD recommends his patients cut back on high fructose corn syrup, starting with sodas. 
So read some labels this week.  Look at the ingredients for foods made with high fructose corn syrup.  Is there another food you could buy that is not made with high fructose corn syrup?  High fructose corn syrup is not needed in one’s diet and avoiding it may be a healthy thing to do. 

Sources:   Sugar, Nature's Own,  Image source: High Fructose Corn Syrup

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