A while back the High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) manufacturers flooded the airways with their “It’s natural” commercials.
If you haven’t seen them, there are several versions that all use the same theme. Two people are talking. One of them refuses to take a popsicle or dessert from the other, saying something like, “I wouldn’t eat that. You know what they say about high fructose corn syrup.”
The person who is handing them the HFCS-laden dessert says, “You mean that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s made from corn, contains no artificial ingredients, and like sugar itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fine in moderation?” The other person stammers and seems confused before going ahead and taking a big bite out of the dessert.
The implication is that you’re some kind of an idiot if you think HFCS is bad for you. I’m sure that manufacturers making $2.6 billion selling it every year doesn’t affect their opinion at all…
This commercial makes as much sense as an imaginary one in which a drug addict offers someone a shot of heroin. When they reply, “No thanks, you know what they say about heroin,” the pusher says, “You mean that it’s made from natural poppies, contains no artificial ingredients and like sugar, is fine in moderation?”
Apparently the people selling the stuff haven’t read the research.
So, in the interests of protecting you from feeling like an idiot the next time you refuse to eat some food with HFCS in it, I’d like to share with you exactly what the research says.
What it Is
First of all, you should know that in spite of the name fructose sounding like the word fruit, HFCS is anything but natural. Most corn used to make it is genetically modified, as are the enzymes and fungus necessary to transform corn starch into this form of sugar.
Regular sugar, glucose, is made up of two sugars, sucrose and fructose. In glucose these two are combined in a way that buffers the effects of fructose on the body.
Fructose by itself, or as part of HFCS, doesn’t have this buffering mechanism. This means the body uses it in a very different way. This difference may explain the following problems eating too much fructose creates:
- high cholesterol
- heart hypertrophy (enlarged heart)
- delayed testicular development
- infertility in women
- increased appetite
- improper connective tissue production
- increased insulin resistance
- increased likelihood of metabolic syndrome
- increased likelihood of type 2 diabetes
- reduced antioxidant activity in the body
- iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc deficiencies
- cirrhosis of the liver
In other words, HFCS wreaks havoc on your immune system, bones, heart, liver, energy level and reproductive system. In addition, it increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer, including prostate and colon cancer.
Sounds sweet, doesn’t it?
You probably know that I’m no fan of eating white sugar. But when it comes to your health, it would be better than HFCS. Better still, stick with natural sweeteners like stevia or xylitol.
And next time you come across one of those smiley-face commercials telling you how great HFCS is, just substitute the word, “heroin” wherever they talk about corn syrup. You’ll be much better off.