Donal's picture

    What would you do for HFCS?

    While watching various matches of the Australian Open, we were bombarded by those videos from the Corn Refiner's Association claiming that your body can't tell the difference between cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) - so they must be the same. But consider that your body can't tell the difference between air and carbon monoxide, either, and low concentrations of CO will kill you.

    I can tell the difference - now. I could drink lots of sugary sodas when I was younger, but a few years ago I found out the hard way - buying Big Gulps (fountain drinks at 7-Eleven) on hot days - that drinking sodas with HFCS during the day gives me indigestion a few hours later. Cans of Diet Pepsi (which I have also given up) gave me a dry feeling, and eventually a dry cough, but didn't bring on the burning sensations. HFCS is soaked in sulfur dioxide during processing, so it and some caramel colorings contain sulfites, a common allergen than can affect sulfur sensitive people, but I don't know if that is my problem or not. 

    But beyond my personal anecdotes, it gets worse. According to USA Today, a Medical College of Georgia study:

    ... of 559 teens aged 14 to 18 found that diets high in fructose were associated with higher blood pressure; diabetes-related measures such as higher fasting glucose and insulin resistance; and inflammatory factors that contribute to heart and vascular disease.

    Teens who consumed large amounts of fructose also tended to have lower levels of cardiovascular protectors such as HDL ("good") cholesterol and the protein adiponectin.

    The connection between consuming lots of fructose and cardiovascular risk factors was even more pronounced in kids with excess belly fat, which is another known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, said the study in the February issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

    Another study at the University of Colorado, published in Metabolism, and briefly described in the UC Campus Newsroom claims:

    Both HFCS and sucrose have historically been considered to have nearly identical effects on the body. But this study finds that indeed there is a difference between the two. They found that the makeup of the sugars resulted in differences in how much fructose was absorbed into the circulation, and which could have a potential impact on one’s health. Sucrose is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose that is bonded together as a disaccharide (complex carbohydrate), while HFCS is a mixture of free fructose (55 percent) and free glucose (45 percent). It’s the difference in fructose amount that appears to create the ill health effects on the body.

    Their study was conducted at the University of Florida, where they evaluated 40 men and women who were given 24 ounces of HFCS - or sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Careful measurements showed that the HFCS-sweetened soft drinks resulted in significantly higher fructose levels than the sugar-sweetened drinks.  Fructose is also known to increase uric acid levels that have been implicated in blood pressure, and the HFCS-sweetened drinks resulted in a higher uric acid level and a 3 mm Hg greater rise in systolic blood pressure.

    And that 55/45 proportion only describes HFCS-55. References to HFCS-90 have been scrubbed from most industry websites - though I saw it once - but 90 is used in jellies, sauces and frostings.

    While Big Sugar and Big Corn are suing each other over their various claims, I've done my best to cut back on sugar and eliminate HFCS altogether, though I have been caught cheating from time to time.




    I kind of like their strategy of asking lay people what they know about HFCS and then deducing that since the lay people can't tell you what's bad about HFCS, then there's nothing bad about it. That could just as easily work with tobacco, asbestos, DDT, and even the H-bomb.

    Person A: Hey, how what do you know about the H-bomb?

    Person B: I know that I'm scared of it, that it's bad.

    Person A: Really? Why?

    Person B: I don't know how it works.

    Person A: Then accept me telling you that it doesn't. There's absolutely nothing dangerous about an H-bomb.

    Person B: Thanks, Person A! I feel so much smarter now!

    Low concentrations of colorless, odorless CO (not 'CO2') can kill you by binding to the O2 site in hemoglobin.

    Fixed it, thanks.

    American's in general have far too much sugar in their diet, whether it is through HFCS or cane sugar or whatever the newest "it's not hfcs" fad might be.

    I try to make almost everything from scratch, I only buy Canada dry when someone in the house is sick.  No boxed foods, no frozen dinners, no store bought breads and we limit bakery items to things I bake at home.

    It's not healthy to eat as much sugar as is in America's processed food diet. I do make all our own jellies and jams as well, which leaves me in control of how much sugar goes into that jam or jelly, but I tend to spend lots of time in the kitchen and that isn't always fun, but it is better for our overall health.

    I feel like I run a health food restaurant in my kitchen though, it makes me very tired some days.

    Whenever I see those 'commercials' about the no difference, I get irritated that no one has challenged the veracity of these claims.

    I've also read that HFCS contributes to our body's sensory ability to telegraph when we have eaten enough and causes over eating.  And that HFCS has contributed to the rise of diabetes.  Have you run across any of the same data? 

    Like TMac, I too do not purchase processed foods or anything that contains HFCS (among other things like MSG, preservatives, etc.) and make everything from 'scratch'.  Purchase only all fruit jams, without additives, even sugar - use to make own but this is so much easier and actually less expensive for the small amount used.

    FYI - many fast food chains place their fries in sweetened water before cooking (which do not have to be just potatoes - often soy is the main ingredient because french fries doesn't equate to define ingredients per FDA).  

    Thanks, hope we continue to have posts with factual data about our food chain and health, etc.

    I have seen claims that HFCS fails to suppresses the hunger ghrelins, or does suppress the leptins that tell us when we're full, but Lustig thinks that cane sugar does that as well.

    One encouraging bit of news is a recent study showing that American obesity seems to have leveled off. So maybe all the messages are finally taking effect.

    I avoid HFCS as well. Seems corn just can't get a break these days!

    Oh, I think popcorn and corn on cob will still enjoy market support.

    Every day some come up with another way to pervert every food category and make it unhealthy, if not worse.  Once again, it's about the $$$$$!

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