Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Myth: high fructose corn syrup

Get the facts: you're in for a sweet surprise.

If you've watched television at all lately, you've seen this fabulous strategy of a commercial more than once, the one that quips high fructose corn syrup (HCFS) is "made from corn, has no artificial sweeteners, and is fine in moderation." What few people know, however, is what the "sweet surprise" the Corn Refiners Association is literally sugar-coating and force-feeding Americans across the country.

Log on to Sweet Surprise and you'll find masses of "expert testimonials" citing HCFS as equivalent to honey, table sugar, and other sweeteners. Yet the sweetener, primarily based in fructose and a combination of other sugars like glucose, is NOT metabolized by the body in the same way as sugar! The fact that the artificial sweetener is completely derived from genetically-modified corn and subject to extreme processing already only emphasizes the unnatural basis of HCFS. Sure, HFCS has no artificial sweeteners...because it IS one.

Whereas glucose in standard sugars is metabolized by the body and converted into blood glucose affecting insulin levels, HFCS is processed by the liver and converted into fat and cholesterol. Insulin helps tell your body when to stop eating; because of the different way HCFS is processed, a person may be more likely to overeat without this heads up. This fructose also ups your levels of bad cholesterol (or LDL) and triglycerides, an extraordinarily unhealthy fat linked to the hardening of healthy arteries and increased risks for heart disease.

Diabetics and at-risk diabetics especially should be on the lookout for this nasty food additive; a 2007 study by the American Chemical Society revealed that HFCS in soda and other drinks was linked with cell and tissue damage that triggers diabetes. Diabetes in itself has been linked to obesity and heart disease and only makes the healthy living battle that much more difficult, so why put another hurdle in your way of crossing the finish line at the top?

Next time you're loading up the pantry, check the labels -- you'll be surprised how many products use HFCS as a sweetener, everything from soda to soup to bread! Instead of indulging in this Frankenstein of a beast, try some actual fruit; fruit is low in yucky fructose but offers loads of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes for healthy digestion and energy. Opt for water over Coke and you'll have saved yourself an average 8 tablespoons of sugar per serving...think of all the calories you don't have to feel guilty about! Your little heart and liver will thank you.

Pretty sure the website should be renamed "Sweet Deception." Eh, better luck next campaign.

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