Menstuff® has compiled the following information on High
Fructose Corn Syrup.
Startling NEW Evidence: This Drink Causes Your
Neurons to Stagnate for 20 Minutes
Facts about High Fructose Corn Syrup (The Corn Refiners Association)
High Fructose Corn Syrup (Oregon State University)
The Dangers of Corn Syrup
Sweet but Not So Innocent? High-Fructose Corn Syrup May Act More Like Fat Than Sugar in the Body
The Murky World of High Fructose Corn Syrup
Sugar coated: We're drowning in high fructose corn syrup. Do the risks go beyond our waistline?
A sugar glossary
The reasons for this increase are not certain, says Larry Fields,
a senior adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services. It
could just be that the population is bigger, older, and fatter. Diet
may also influence blood pressure in a variety of ways. The National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has shown that controlling sodium,
most of which is hidden in processed and prepared foods, reduces
blood pressure. Another report last week linked sugared soft drinks
to weight gain. That adds to evidence that the high-fructose corn
syrup used in soft drinks may increase the risk of obesity and
diabetes and, in turn, hypertension. In animals, fructose leads to
hypertension. In fact, new antihypertensive medications are tested on
hypertensive rats fed high-fructose diets. Consumption of
high-fructose corn syrup has skyrocketed to about 63 pounds per
person yearly, yet its impact on human blood pressure has yet to be
Source: Amanda Spake, www.KeepMedia.com
Sweet but Not So Innocent? High-Fructose
Corn Syrup May Act More Like Fat Than Sugar in the Body
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended limiting intake of added sugars found in food and drink to no more than 10 percent of daily calories, a step the WHO said could help stop the worldwide rise in obesity that is fueling the growth of such chronic diseases as type 2 diabetes. The WHO recommendation is far stricter than any that U.S. groups have produced.
But increasingly, it's not just the growing consumption of foods with added sugars that concerns some nutrition experts. What has also changed during the past four decades, the USDA figures show, is the type of sweeteners consumed -- a trend that some studies suggest may help to undermine appetite control and possibly play a role in weight gain.
In 1966, refined sugar, also known as sucrose, held the No. 1 slot, accounting for 86 percent of sweeteners used, according to the USDA. Today, sweeteners made from corn are the leader, racking up $4.5 billion in annual sales and accounting for 55 percent of the sweetener market. That switch largely reflects the steady growth of high-fructose corn syrup, which climbed from zero consumption in 1966 to 62.6 pounds per person in 2001.
While soft drinks and fruit beverages such as lemonade are the leading products containing high-fructose corn syrup, plenty of other items -- including cookies, gum, jams, jellies and baked goods -- also contain this syrup.
Made from corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup is a thick liquid that contains two basic sugar building blocks, fructose and glucose, in roughly equal amounts. Sucrose, most familiar to consumers as table sugar, is a larger sugar molecule that breaks down into glucose and fructose in the intestine during metabolism.
An advantage of high-fructose corn syrup is that it "tastes sweeter than refined sugar," making it a popular ingredient for food manufacturers because it enables them to use less, says George A. Bray, former director of Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. As a liquid, the syrup is easier to blend into beverages than refined sugar, according to the National Soft Drink Association (NSDA). Industry taste tests suggested that consumers liked food and drink with high-fructose corn syrup as much as refined beet or cane sugar.
In the 1980s, manufacturing methods improved, prompting a boost in production of high-fructose corn syrup and a drop in price to just pennies below that of refined sugar. "While that may not sound like much to the average consumer, when you consider how many pounds [the soft drink industry buys], it was millions of dollars if not hundreds of millions of dollars in savings," says Drew Davis, NSDA's vice president for federal affairs.
The switch made economic sense and, as Davis notes, "back then, there was no suggestion that high-fructose corn syrup was metabolized differently" than other sugars. More recent research suggests, however, that there may be some unexpected nutritional consequences of using the syrup. "Fructose is absorbed differently" than other sugars, says Bray. "It doesn't register in the body metabolically the same way that glucose does."
For example, consumption of glucose kicks off a cascade of biochemical reactions. It increases production of insulin by the pancreas, which enables sugar in the blood to be transported into cells, where it can be used for energy. It increases production of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate appetite and fat storage, and it suppresses production of another hormone made by the stomach, ghrelin, that helps regulate food intake. It has been theorized that when ghrelin levels drop, as they do after eating carbohydrates composed of glucose, hunger declines.
Fructose is a different story. It "appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation," explains Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. "Fructose doesn't stimulate insulin secretion. It doesn't increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin. That suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat, could contribute to weight gain." Whether it actually does do this is not known "because the studies have not been conducted," said Havel.
Another concern is the action of fructose in the liver, where it is converted into the chemical backbone of trigylcerides more efficiently than glucose. Like low-density lipoprotein -- the most damaging form of cholesterol -- elevated levels of trigylcerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. A University of Minnesota study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000 found that in men, but not in women, fructose "produced significantly higher [blood] levels" than did glucose. The researchers, led by J.P Bantle, concluded that "diets high in added fructose may be undesirable, particularly for men."
Other recent research suggests that fructose may alter the magnesium balance in the body. That could, in turn, accelerate bone loss, according to a USDA study published in 2000 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
In November, however, Havel and his colleagues published a review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that examined evidence from multiple studies. They concluded that large quantities of fructose from a variety of sources, including table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, induce insulin resistance, impair glucose tolerance, produce high levels of insulin, boost a dangerous type of fat in the blood and cause high blood pressure in animals. "The data in humans are less clear," the team noted.
Others are skeptical that high-fructose corn syrup acts differently in the body than table sugar. "I don't see it as a particular evil," says Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a vocal critic of soft drinks, which he dubs "liquid candy." "It wouldn't make much difference if soft drinks were sweetened with sucrose [table sugar] or high-fructose corn syrup."
Until scientists sort out the details, many nutrition experts say it makes sense to not surpass the 10 percent recommendation of the WHO. On a 2,000-calorie intake, that works out to about 200 calories -- roughly the amount found in a 16.9-ounce bottle of soda or about eight Chunky Chips Ahoy cookies or about an three ounces of plain M&M's. (Last year, the National Academy of Sciences suggested that added sugars should not exceed 25 percent of daily calories -- about 500 calories on a 2,000-calorie intake.)
"Reducing consumption of added sugars seems reasonable to me," Havel says, "just as you should not consume too many calories from fat and you should exercise regularly."
But industry groups urged consumers not to respond by avoiding any one food ingredient. Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, notes that many of the studies used pure fructose rather than the combination of fructose and glucose found in corn syrup.
"There are many sources for the obesity epidemic," Erickson says. "There's no one single source of the obesity epidemic or the onslaught of diabetes in America. But there are many contributing factors and no scientific link to suggest that high-fructose corn syrup is a contributing factor."
Erickson says that research published in a 1993 supplement to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that there is no evidence linking the syrup to the obesity epidemic.
What does play a role, she noted, "is the lack of physical exercise. You can not discontinue the use of any one food or beverage and expect tomorrow -- or even in 10 years from now -- to be thin without increased physical activity."
That's a message being delivered not just by the food and beverage
industries, but also by the U.S. Surgeon General, the National
Academy of Sciences and the WHO, which also urged more physical
activity -- an hour a day of moderate-intensity activity, such as
walking -- in its report last week.
Source: Sally Squires, www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A8003-2003Mar10?language=printer
The Murky World of High Fructose Corn
Nobody thinks of sugar when they see a field of corn. Most of us would be surprised to learn that the larger percentage of sweeteners used in processed food comes from corn, not sugar cane or beets.
The process for making the sweetener high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) out of corn was developed in the 1970s. Use of HFCS grew rapidly, from less than three million short tons in 1980 to almost 8 million short tons in 1995. During the late 1990s, use of sugar actually declined as it was eclipsed by HFCS. Today Americans consume more HFCS than sugar.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose, and then processing the glucose to produce a high percentage of fructose. It all sounds rather simplewhite cornstarch is turned into crystal clear syrup. However, the process is actually very complicated. Three different enzymes are needed to break down cornstarch, which is composed of chains of glucose molecules of almost infinite length, into the simple sugars glucose and fructose.
First, cornstarch is treated with alpha-amylase to produce shorter chains of sugars called polysaccharides. Alpha-amylase is industrially produced by a bacterium, usually Bacillus sp. It is purified and then shipped to HFCS manufacturers.
Next, an enzyme called glucoamylase breaks the sugar chains down even further to yield the simple sugar glucose. Unlike alpha-amylase, glucoamylase is produced by Aspergillus, a fungus, in a fermentation vat where one would likely see little balls of Aspergillus floating on the top.
The third enzyme, glucose-isomerase, is very expensive. It converts glucose to a mixture of about 42 percent fructose and 50-52 percent glucose with some other sugars mixed in. While alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are added directly to the slurry, pricey glucose-isomerase is packed into columns and the sugar mixture is then passed over it. Inexpensive alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are used only once, glucose-isomerase is reused until it loses most of its activity.
There are two more steps involved. First is a liquid chromatography step that takes the mixture to 90 percent fructose. Finally, this is back-blended with the original mixture to yield a final concentration of about 55 percent fructosewhat the industry calls high fructose corn syrup.
HFCS has the exact same sweetness and taste as an equal amount of sucrose from cane or beet sugar but it is obviously much more complicated to make, involving vats of murky fermenting liquid, fungus and chemical tweaking, all of which take place in one of 16 chemical plants located in the Corn Belt. Yet in spite of all the special enzymes required, HFCS is actually cheaper than sugar. It is also very easy to transportit's just piped into tanker trucks. This translates into lower costs and higher profits for food producers.
The development of the HFCS process came at an opportune time for corn growers. Refinements of the partial hydrogenation process had made it possible to get better shortenings and margarines out of soybeans than corn. HFCS took up the slack as demand for corn oil margarine declined. Lysine, an amino acid, can be produced from the corn residue after the glucose is removed. This is the modus operandi of the food conglomeratesbreak down commodities into their basic components and then put them back together again as processed food.
Today HFCS is used to sweeten jams, condiments like ketchup, and soft drinks. It is also a favorite ingredient in many so-called health foods. Four companies control 85 percent of the $2.6 billion businessArcher Daniels Midland, Cargill, Staley Manufacturing Co. and CPC International. In the mid-1990s, ADM was the object of an FBI probe into price fixing of three productsHFCS, citric acid and lysineand consumers got a glimpse of the murky world of corporate manipulation.
There's a couple of other murky things that consumers should know about HFCS. According to a food technology expert, two of the enzymes used, alpha-amylase and glucose-isomerase, are genetically modified to make them more stable. Enzymes are actually very large proteins and through genetic modification specific amino acids in the enzymes are changed or replaced so the enzyme's "backbone" won't break down or unfold. This allows the industry to get the enzymes to higher temperatures before they become unstable.
Consumers trying to avoid genetically modified foods should avoid HFCS. It is almost certainly made from genetically modified corn and then it is processed with genetically modified enzymes. I've seen some estimates claiming that virtually everythingalmost 80 percentof what we eat today has been genetically modified at some point. Since the use of HFCS is so prevalent in processed foods, those figures may be right.
But there's another reason to avoid HFCS. Consumers may think that because it contains fructosewhich they associate with fruit, which is a natural foodthat it is healthier than sugar. A team of investigators at the USDA, led by Dr. Meira Field, has discovered that this just ain't so.
Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose. When sugar is given to rats in high amounts, the rats develop multiple health problems, especially when the rats were deficient in certain nutrients, such as copper. The researchers wanted to know whether it was the fructose or the glucose moiety that was causing the problems. So they repeated their studies with two groups of rats, one given high amounts of glucose and one given high amounts of fructose. The glucose group was unaffected but the fructose group had disastrous results. The male rats did not reach adulthood. They had anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophythat means that their hearts enlarged until they exploded. They also had delayed testicular development. Dr. Field explains that fructose in combination with copper deficiency in the growing animal interferes with collagen production. (Copper deficiency, by the way, is widespread in America.) In a nutshell, the little bodies of the rats just fell apart. The females were not so affected, but they were unable to produce live young.
"The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar," says Dr. Field, "but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic."
HFCS contains more fructose than sugar and this fructose is more immediately available because it is not bound up in sucrose. Since the effects of fructose are most severe in the growing organism, we need to think carefully about what kind of sweeteners we give to our children. Fruit juices should be strictly avoidedthey are very high in fructosebut so should anything with HFCS.
Interestingly, although HFCS is used in many products aimed at children, it is not used in baby formula, even though it would probably save the manufactueres a few pennies for each can. Do the formula makers know something they aren't telling us? Pretty murky!
Source: About the author. Weston A. Price
Foundation Board Member Linda Forristal is the author of Ode to
Sucanat (1993) and Bulgarian Rhapsody (1998). Visit her website at
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the
Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price
Foundation, Fall 2001, www.westonaprice.org/motherlinda/cornsyrup.html
High Fructose Corn Syrup (Oregon
Fructose and Fructose Products
Fructose is a monosaccharide that is approximately 75% sweeter than sucrose. For this reason, fructose and fructose products are frequently substituted for sucrose. High Fructose corn syrup is often used.
The high fructose corn syrup story is one of the most "revolutionary" in food science in the last decade. Consumption has increased since its inception. The products themselves are made up hydrolyzed corn starch. The corn starch is hydrolyzed and that corn syrup has a invertase which will change glucose into fructose.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Information contributed by Corn Refiners Association [Communication: September 26,2003 Audrae Erickson, President]
Fact: The truth is table sugar and HFCS are both about 50% fructose and 50% dextrose. An analysis of annual HFCS 55 & 42 production would reveal an average content of 49% fructose-nearly identical to the fructose content of sucrose.
Webbers Comment: HFCS is not generally 100% solids. Additionally, recognize that table sugar is 100% sucrose [this webber has had scanning electron micrographs made of cane table sugar and beet table sugar and there is a minute amount of unknown material on the crystals]. Sucrose is a disaccaride made up of equal amounts of fructose and glucose bonded together to give sucrose. Each of these three sugars have different characteristics: crystal shape, solubility, flavor. In regard to the purity of high fructose corn syrup, you need to check with your manufacturer to determine if the corn has been completely hydrolyzed and 50% glucose inverted to fructose.
A source of composition is at www.wcommerce.com/CornSyrup/55.PDF . On a % dry basis they indicate HFCS at: Fructose 55%, Dextrose 41%, Maltose 2%, and higher saccharides 2%. This appears to be the composition used in soft drinks. The Corn Refiners Association's own web site indicates that "High fructose corn sweeteners begin with enzymes which isomerize dextrose to produce a 42 percent fructose syrup. By passing 42-HFCS through a column which retains fructose, refiners draw off 90 percent HFCS and blend it with 42-HFCS to make a third syrup, 55-HFCS." HFCS55 is the HFCS recommended for soft drinks by the National Soft Drink Association. Different HFCS are selected for different purposes.
Why use a high fructose corn syrup? It is because of their attributes.
These attributes are advantages in many instances. However, these
same attributes are a disadvantage as well as an advantage. For
example, at one time a major fast food company was buying hamburger
buns from a relatively small baker because they were using granulated
sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup. Why do you think so?
Source: Oregon State University, oregonstate.edu/food-resource/sugar/hfcs.html
Facts about High Fructose Corn Syrup
(The Corn Refiners Association)
First and foremost, HFCS is safe.
In 1983, FDA listed HFCS as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use in food (48 FR pg. 10301). The agency considered that HFCS is as safe as sucrose, corn sugar, and corn syrup for use in food.
In 1988, FDA proposed to reaffirm the safety of HFCS (53 FR pg. 44904). In that proposed reaffirmation, which was finalized in 1996 (61 FR pg. 43447), FDA stated that the basis for listing HFCS as GRAS in 1983 was that ... "the saccharide composition (glucose to fructose ratio) of HFCS is approximately the same as that of honey, invert sugar and the disaccharide sucrose."
The proposal on HFCS safety concluded: The safety of the monosaccharides (i.e., glucose and fructose) in HFCS (containing equimolar amounts of glucose and fructose) is comparable to the safety of sugars in invert sugar. It is also related to the safety of sucrose. Consumption of all three sweeteners results in the absorption and metabolism of glucose and fructose in an approximately equimolar ratio. Thus, consumption of HFCS (containing equimolar amounts of glucose and fructose) is not expected to alter the identity, level or ratio of monosaccharides that are available for absorption and metabolism from the food supply.
In other words, the composition of HFCS is approximately the same as table sugar or honey.
In 1996, FDA published the final rule once again reaffirming HFCS as safe for use in food (61 FR pg. 43447). In that ruling, FDA repeated its statement on the similarity of HFCS to honey, invert sugar and sucrose. These rulings apply to both HFCS 42 and 55.
The problem with recent 'scientific' studies.
Several studies have examined fructose (alone) -- not HFCS. Humans rarely consume fructose as the sole source of sugar. The studies should use glucose-fructose combinations as used in table sugar or HFCS.
Extrapolation of studies using pure fructose to HFCS may not provide simple direct predictions because the presence of glucose in HFCS stimulates metabolism of these sugars. Furthermore, pure fructose is not found as the only single sugar in the diet, so studies using only pure fructose are not reflective of the typical human diet.
Most studies on fructose itself have been done using animal models which have not been established as appropriate species for valid comparisons to humans in evaluating the effect of dietary sugars. Consequently, the results from these studies must be carefully considered as to their scientific relationships to humans.
In fact, the author of one of these studies, Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California-Davis, was careful to acknowledge in his own study that "data in humans is less clear, perhaps in part because the effects of fructose are often compared with those of sucrose, which is composed of 50% fructose" and "a considerable amount of research needs to be done to more completely appreciate the effect of fructose on the American diet." In a news article published in The Detroit News entitled, "High fructose corn syrup concerns health experts," Havel is quoted as saying that whether fructose actually has negative effects is not known "because the studies have not been conducted." This statement indicates caution in extrapolation of animal studies to humans.
Many published studies have used abnormally high fructose intake levels. The average daily range of human fructose intake is 7-9% of daily dietary energy intake. Peter Havel's study, for example, utilized experimental diets that used pure fructose at intake levels ranging anywhere from 35 - 66% of daily energy intake.
Source: The Corn Refiners Association,
The Dangers of Corn Syrup
The trouble may lie with the particular form fructose assumes in corn syrup. While naturally occurring sugars, as well as the sucrose we spoon into our coffee, contain fructose bound to other sugars, high-fructose corn syrup contains a good deal of "free" or unbound fructose. And it may be this free fructose that interferes with the heart's use of key minerals, like magnesium, copper and chromium.
The most striking evidence comes from recent animal studies. When rats fed a low-copper, high fructose diet were compared with rats fed a low-copper diet high in complex carbohydrates, the difference in longevity was enormous. "Rats normally live for a good two years," explains Meira Fields, Ph.D., research chemist at the USDA in Beltsville, Maryland. "But the rats in my study fed a high-fructose, low copper diets are dying after 5 weeks." One of the few human studies of low-copper, high-fructose diets was abruptly stopped when 4 of the 24 subjects developed heart-related abnormalities, according to Fields. High fructose diets have also been implicated in the development of adult-onset diabetes. Fructose, especially when combined with other sugars, reduces stores of chromium, a mineral essential for maintaining balanced insulin levels, according to Richard Anderson, Ph.D., lead scientist at the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland.
And low chromium levels can cause everything from high cholesterol levels to hyperglycemia to the kind of impaired glucose tolerance that can lead to adult-onset diabetes. But reversing the chromium deficiency can quickly bring about positive change. "In addition to bringing down high blood sugar, chromium can also bring up low blood sugar. Bringing a man's chromium levels into the safe range can have a profound effect on his feeling of well-being," says Anderson.
Since you need both high fructose and low mineral levels to suffer ill effects, you've got two avenues of positive action. Here's some ways to keep minerals high and fructose levels low:
Sugar coated: We're drowning in high
fructose corn syrup. Do the risks go beyond our waistline?
Not just any sugar, but high fructose corn syrup.
The country eats more sweetener made from corn than from sugarcane or beets, gulping it down in drinks as well as in frozen food and baked goods. Even ketchup is laced with it.
Almost all nutritionists finger high fructose corn syrup consumption as a major culprit in the nation's obesity crisis. The inexpensive sweetener flooded the American food supply in the early 1980s, just about the time the nation's obesity rate started its unprecedented climb.
The question is why did it make us so fat. Is it simply the Big Gulp syndrome -- that we're eating too many empty calories in ever-increasing portion sizes? Or does the fructose in all that corn syrup do something more insidious -- literally short-wire our metabolism and force us to gain weight?
The debate can divide a group of nutritional researchers almost as fast as whether the low-carb craze is fact or fad.
Loading high fructose corn syrup into increasingly larger portions of soda and processed food has packed more calories into us and more money into food processing companies, say nutritionists and food activists. But some health experts argue that the issue is bigger than mere calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.
The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat.
"One of the issues is the ease with which you can consume this stuff," says Carol Porter, director of nutrition and food services at UC San Francisco. "It's not that fructose itself is so bad, but they put it in so much food that you consume so much of it without knowing it."
A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. And because the amount of soda we drink has more than doubled since 1970 to about 56 gallons per person a year, so has the amount of high fructose corn syrup we take in. In 2001, we consumed almost 63 pounds of it, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA suggests most of us limit our intake of added sugar -- that's everything from the high fructose corn syrup hidden in your breakfast cereal to the sugar cube you drop into your after-dinner espresso -- to about 10 to 12 teaspoons a day. But we're not doing so well. In 2000, we ate an average of 31 teaspoons a day, which was more than 15 percent of our caloric intake. And much of that was in sweetened drinks.
So, the answer is to just avoid soda, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple, because the inexpensive, versatile sweetener has crept into plenty of other places -- foods you might not expect to have any at all. A low-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt, for example, can have 10 teaspoons of fructose-based sweetener in one serving.
Because high fructose corn syrup mixes easily, extends shelf-life and is as much as 20 percent cheaper than other sources of sugar, large-scale food manufacturers love it. It can help prevent freezer burn, so you'll find it on the labels of many frozen foods. It helps breads brown and keeps them soft, which is why hot dog buns and even English muffins hold unexpected amounts.
The question remains just how much more dangerous high fructose corn syrup is than other sugars.
Fructose, as the name implies, is the sugar found naturally in fruit. It can be extracted, turned into granules and used like sugar in the kitchen. It used to be considered a healthier alternative to sucrose -- plain old table sugar. It's sweeter, so less is needed to achieve the same taste. Diabetics use it because fructose doesn't stimulate insulin production, so blood sugar levels remain stable.
The process of pulling sugar from cornstarch wasn't perfected until the early 1970s, when Japanese researchers developed a reliable way to turn cornstarch into syrup sweet enough to compete with liquid sugar. After some tinkering, they landed on a formula that was 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose -- sweet enough and cheap enough to make most soda companies jump from liquid sugar to high fructose corn syrup by the 1980s.
The results were dramatic. -- a whopping increase of 4,080 percent.
Journalist Greg Critser lays out a compelling case against high fructose corn syrup in his 2003 book, "Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World." He argues that federal policies that aimed to stabilize food prices and support corn production in the 1970s led to a glut of corn and then to high fructose corn syrup. With a cheaper way to sweeten food, producers pumped up the size and amount of sweet snacks and drinks on the market and increased profits.
It's not natural
Critser writes that despite the food industry's arguments that sugar is sugar, whether fructose or sucrose, no group "has yet refuted the growing scientific concern that, when all is said and done, fructose ... is about the furthest thing from natural that one can imagine, let alone eat."
Although some researchers have long been suspicious that too much fructose can cause problems, the latest case against high fructose corn syrup began in earnest a few years ago. Dr. George Bray, principal investigator of the Diabetes Prevention Program at Louisiana State University Medical Center told the International Congress on Obesity that in 1980, just after high fructose corn syrup was introduced in mass quantities, relatively stable obesity rates began to climb. By 2000, they had doubled.
Further, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2002 published research that showed that teenagers' milk consumption between 1965 and 1996 decreased by 36 percent, while soda consumption increased by more than 200 percent. Bray argues that without calcium, which nutritionists agree can help the body regulate weight, kids got fatter. He says that he could find no other single combination of environmental or food changes that were as significant to the rise in obesity.
Other studies by researchers at UC Davis and the University of Michigan have shown that consuming fructose, which is more readily converted to fat by the liver, increases the levels of fat in the bloodstream in the form of triglycerides.
And unlike other types of carbohydrate made up of glucose, fructose does not stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin. Peter Havel, a nutrition researcher at UC Davis who studies the metabolic effects of fructose, has also shown that fructose fails to increase the production of leptin, a hormone produced by the body's fat cells.
Both insulin and leptin act as signals to the brain to turn down the appetite and control body weight. And in another metabolic twist, Havel's research shows that fructose does not appear to suppress the production of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger and appetite.
"Because fructose in isolation doesn't activate the hormones that regulate body weight as do other types of carbohydrate composed of glucose, consuming a diet high in fructose could lead to taking in more calories and, over time, to weight gain," he says.
However, Havel isn't convinced high fructose corn syrup is by itself the problem. That's in part because it is composed of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, which is similar to the 50-50 combination of fructose and glucose found in table sugar. Havel's studies have focused on fructose by itself and not as part of a high fructose corn syrup mixture.
"Whether there is an important difference in the effects of consuming beverages sweetened with a mixture of 55 percent as opposed to 50 percent fructose would be hard to measure," he says. "Additional studies are needed to better understand the nutritional impact of consuming different types of sugars in humans."
Still, other researchers are finding new problems with high fructose corn syrup. A study in last month's Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that women whose diet was high in total carbohydrate and fructose intake had an increased risk of colorectal cancer. And Dr. Mel Heyman, chief of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at UCSF, is seeing sick children whose bodies have been overloaded with fructose from naturally occurring fructose in fruit juice combined with soda and processed food.
"The way the body handles glucose is different than fructose,'' he says. "It can overload the intestines' ability to absorb carbohydrate by giving it too much fructose. That can cause cramps, bloating and loose stools."
The jury's still out
Like others in the field, he says there is much to discover in how sugar works, but he disagrees that high fructose corn syrup is somehow reprogramming our bodies toward obesity. Rather, he says, we're just eating too much of it.
Nutrition theory holds that the basic make-up of fructose-laced corn syrup is not much different than table sugar. They react about the same in the body, says Dr. Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. "There are some modest differences in metabolism, but I don't think fructose per se is the culprit."
Neither do the food companies that use it in copious amounts.
Says Stephanie Childs, a spokesperson for the Grocery Manufacturers Association: "At the end of the day, how any sweetener affects your weight depends on how many calories you are taking in overall. Overemphasizing one nutrient at the detriment of others is not going to solve the problem."
Even some leading nutrition reformers aren't convinced that high fructose corn syrup is of itself the issue. The bigger battle, says Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, is to get added sugars listed on food labels with a percentage of daily value. That means a consumer could look at a package and see that, for example, one soda provides almost all the sugar a person should eat in a day.
"It simply comes down to this,'' he says. "We're eating too much refined sugars, be it sucrose or high fructose corn syrup or any other refined sugar."
Source: Kim Severson, Chronicle Staff Writer,
A sugar glossary
Awash in corn syrup
It should come as no shock to most consumers that a Pepsi or a Fig Newton has plenty of sugar - most of it from high fructose corn syrup. But what's surprising is the products where the sweetener hides out and how disguised it can be by the deceptively small serving size listed on the nutrition label. Although the numbers below show teaspoons of sugar per serving, people often eat more than one serving. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises most people to limit themselves to 10 to 12 teaspoons of added sugars a day.
How much is too much?
The list below shows how much sugar, mostly in the form of high fructose corn syrup, is in each of these single servings.
Sunkist soda: 10 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
Berkeley Farms low-fat yogurt with fruit: 10 teaspoons of sugar
Mott's applesauce: 5 teaspoons of sugar
Slim-Fast chocolate cookie dough meal bar: 5 teaspoons of sugar
Ketchup: 1 tablespoon: 1 teaspoon of sugar
Hansen's Super Vita orange-carrot Smoothie: 10 teaspoons of sugar
Source: Kim Severson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Product Short List
Startling NEW Evidence: This Drink Causes Your Neurons to Stagnate for 20 Minutes...
Glucose and fructose are both simple sugars, but scientists have long suspected there are differences in the way your body processes them.
In a new study, researchers scanned the brains of nine subjects after they got an infusion of equal volumes of glucose, fructose or saline. The brain scans were looking at activity in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain which plays a key role in setting appetite levels and controlling production of metabolic hormones.
According to the Chicago Tribune:
The researchers ... found that cortical control areas -- broad swaths of gray matter that surrounded the hypothalamus -- responded quite differently to the infusion of fructose than they did to glucose. Across the limited regions of the brain they scanned ... glucose significantly raised the level of neural activity for about 20 minutes following the infusion. Fructose had the opposite effect, causing activity in the same areas to drop and stay low for 20 minutes after the infusion.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
People everywhere are finally waking up to the indisputable fact that all simple sugars are not the same when it comes to the physical end results they create. The latest Public Service Announcement warning New Yorkers about the dangers of excessive soda consumption is a powerful illustration of this increasing level of awareness.
When these differences are understood, it's easy to see how and why fructosemainly in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)is in large part responsible for the meteoric rise of obesity and its related health problems.
It's a staple ingredient in a vast majority of sweetened beverages
and processed foods of all kinds, from pre-packaged meals to baked
goods and condiments. And the number one source of calories in
America is soda, in the form of HFCS!
Your Brain Reacts to Fructose and Glucose in Very Different Ways
This latest study is intriguing, as it shows that the difference between fructose and glucose is not just limited to how they're metabolized in your body; your brain also reacts to these two sugars in entirely different ways.
Nine healthy, normal-weight subjects received either glucose, fructose, or saline (as the control). Their brains were then scanned to evaluate activity around the hypothalamus, which is a key player in appetite control and production of metabolic hormones.
Interestingly, the researchers discovered that the "cortical control areas" surrounding the hypothalamus responded very differently to each substance:
So, what does this mean?
At this point, the implications of these differences are unclear. The Chicago Tribune reported that:
"At this point, said [lead researcher] Purnell in a phone interview, it means nothing more than that the two substances did prompt different responses in the brain--that the brain did not respond to them identically.
Within some of the "cortical control areas" where differences were seen, lie some important neural real estate, including regions where notions of reward and addiction are processed.
As scientists have a closer look in future studies, they should be able to zero in on which specific areas are affected differently by the two forms of sugar."
So, time will tell what these latest findings really mean, but we already know that fructose has a detrimental impact on two hormones involved with satiety and hunger, namely leptin and ghrelin, and that this influence sets in motion a vicious cycle of hunger, increased food intake, and increased fat storage.
Fructose Packs on the Pounds Faster than Any Other Nutrient
Part of what makes HFCS so unhealthy is that it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver, and it promotes a particularly dangerous kind of body fat, namely adipose fat. This is the fat type of fat that collects in your abdominal region and is associated with a greater risk of heart disease.
Additionally, because most fructose is consumed in liquid form (i.e. soda and sweetened beverages of all kinds), its negative metabolic effects are magnified. Because while HFCS has about the same amount of fructose as cane sugar, the fructose in HFCS is in its "free" form and not attached to any other carbs.
The fructose in fruits and in cane sugar is bonded to other sugars which results in a decrease in its metabolic toxicity.
Consuming foods that contain high amounts of fructoseeven if it's a natural productis, to put it bluntly, the fastest way to trash your health. Among the health problems you invite with a high-fructose diet are:
Adding insult to injury, HFCS is most often made from genetically modified (GM) corn, which is fraught with its own well documented side effects and health concerns, from an increased risk of developing food allergies to the risk of increased infertility in future generations.
Beware: Mixing Fructose with Glucose Increases Destructive Effect
Fructose consumption clearly causes insulin resistance whereas straight glucose does not. However, it's worth knowing that glucose accelerates fructose absorption! So when you mix glucose and fructose together, you absorb more fructose than if you consumed fructose alone...
This is an important piece of information if you are struggling to control your weight.
Remember, sucrose, or table sugar, is exactly this blend -- fructose plus glucose. So, the key to remember is to not get too nit-picky about the names of the sugars. ALL of these contribute to decreased health:
Is Fructose from HFCS Worse than Fructose from Table Sugar?
High fructose corn syrup is about 55 percent fructose while table sugar is about 50 percent. The fructose in the corn syrup is also dissociated from the glucose, unlike table sugar which has it attached. So HFCS is clearly worse than table sugar, but not orders of magnitude. It is only marginally worse.
The MAIN reason why fructose and HFCS are so bad is that in the mid 70s two things happened. Earl Butz changed the US Agriculture policy to massively subsidize corn production in the US, and scientists also figured out how to make HFCS in the lab from corn.
The combination of these two events made fructose VERY cheap. So cheap that it's put in virtually all processed foods because it is virtually free and massively improves the flavor of most foods. So if you are a processed food producer there are virtually no downsides.
So it becomes a QUANTITY issue, and the average person is now consuming 600 percent more than their ancestors did, and some are consuming 1500 percent more. So the massive increase in this toxin is what is causing the problem. If table sugar was as cheap and used as much it would cause virtually identical side effects.
Fructose Metabolism Basics
Without getting into the very complex biochemistry of carbohydrate metabolism, it is important to understand how your body processes glucose versus fructose. Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism. His work has highlighted some major differences in how different sugars are broken down and used.
Here's a summary of the main points: After eating fructose, 100 percent of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. With glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent.
So, if anyone tries to tell you "sugar is sugar," they are way behind the times. As you can see, there are major differences in how your body processes each one. The bottom line is: fructose leads to increased belly fat, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome -- not to mention the long list of chronic diseases that directly result.
If you, like so many others, have struggled with your weight for years; examined your diet; avoided fat and counted your calories, yet not getting anywhere and wondering what you're doing wrong, please pay very close attention to this issue!
In many cases the primary culprit is an excessive intake of hidden sugar in the form of fructose, whether natural fructose (such as agave syrup or 100 percent fruit juice, for example), or in the form of corn syrup (or high fructose corn syrup), which is a main ingredient in countless beverages and processed, pre-packaged foods.
It's extremely easy to consume high amounts of fructose on a daily basis, especially if most of your foods are processed in any way, or if you drink sodas or any other sweetened beverages such as ice-teas, fruit juices and sports drinks. As previously discussed, even seemingly "health-conscious" beverages like Vitamin Water, Jamba Juice and Odwalla SuperFood contain far more added sugar and/or fructose than many desserts!
So please, understand that it's not dietary fat that's making you fat. It's fructose.
My Recommended Fructose Allowance
As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.
For most people it would also be wise to limit your fructose from fruit to 15 grams or less, as you're virtually guaranteed to consume "hidden" sources of fructose if you drink beverages other than water and eat processed food. Remember, the average 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, at least half of which is fructose, so one can of soda ALONE would exceed your daily allotment.
Fifteen grams of fructose is not much -- it represents two bananas, one-third cup of raisins, or two Medjool dates. In his book, The Sugar Fix, Dr. Johnson includes detailed tables showing the content of fructose in different foods -- an information base that isn't readily available when you're trying to find out exactly how much fructose is in various foods. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this excellent resource.
Here's a quick reference list of some of the most common fruits that you can use to help you count your fructose grams:
Fruit/Serving Size/Grams of Fructose
Limes 1 medium 0
Lemons 1 medium 0.6
Cranberries 1 cup 0.7
Passion fruit 1 medium 0.9
Prune 1 medium 1.2
Apricot 1 medium 1.3
Guava 2 medium 2.2
Date (Deglet Noor style) 1 medium 2.6
Cantaloupe 1/8 of med. melon 2.8
Raspberries 1 cup 3.0
Clementine 1 medium 3.4
Kiwifruit 1 medium 3.4
Blackberries 1 cup 3.5
Star fruit 1 medium 3.6
Cherries, sweet 10 3.8
Strawberries 1 cup 3.8
Cherries, sour 1 cup 4.0
Pineapple 1 slice (3.5" x .75") 4.0
Grapefruit, pink or red 1/2 medium 4.3
Boysenberries 1 cup 4.6
Tangerine/mandarin orange 1 medium 4.8
Nectarine 1 medium 5.4
Peach 1 medium 5.9
Orange (navel) 1 medium 6.1
Papaya 1/2 medium 6.3
Honeydew 1/8 of med. melon 6.7
Banana 1 medium 7.1
Blueberries 1 cup 7.4
Date (Medjool) 1 medium 7.7
Apple (composite) 1 medium 9.5
Persimmon 1 medium 10.6
Watermelon 1/16 med. melon 11.3
Pear 1 medium 11.8
Raisins 1/4 cup 12.3
Grapes, seedless (green or red) 1 cup 12.4
Mango 1/2 medium 16.2
Apricots, dried 1 cup 16.4
Figs, dried 1 cup 23.0
The Way Toward Better Health Begins Here...
There is nothing benign about the fructose consumption inherent in our modern diet. It is literally supercharged with fructose, and we're seeing the consequences of this type of eating in our skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cases of non-fatty liver disease.
Fortunately, there's plenty of good news here.
There IS a way out of this evil circle, and that is a return to a more holistic diet based on whole foods, along with physical exercise and safe sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D levels.
One of the easiest things you can do to quickly improve your health is to eliminate all soda and sweetened beverages from your life. I say ALL soda, because even though HFCS is clearly something you want to avoid, it is still not as bad as artificial sweeteners, which damage your health even more rapidly than HFCS.
Then, since most processed foods also contain HFCS, avoiding as many processed foods as possible is your next step.
If you want an occasional sweetener, I recommend using:
1.The herb stevia
2.Dextrose (pure glucose)
I do not recommend agave syrup since it is a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose. It is one of the more seriously mismarketed foods in the natural food world. We actually did an informal study and found the most popular agave brands ranged from 59 to 67 percent pure fructose, far worse than HFCS.
Once you realize the hazards of fructose and begin to avoid it in earnest, your diet will significantly improve, which is an essential factor for a long, healthy life.