High Fructose Corn Syrup

Have you seen the recent high fructose corn syrup commercials?? These commercials are two spots that are at the center of an  campaign by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) in an effort to give high-fructose corn syrup — public enemy no. 1 to many healthy-eating advocates — an image makeover. In one ad, a mother pours a glass of bright red punch; in another, a woman offers her boyfriend a cherry-colored Popsicle. Both are confronted about the health effects of high-fructose corn syrup, but each has this ready response: High-fructose corn syrup is made from corn, has no artificial ingredients, has the same calories as sugar and is okay to eat in moderation.

And therein lies the problem. CRA’s ad campaign claims that high-fructose corn syrup is a “natural” product. “High-fructose corn syrup starts out as cornstarch, which is chemically or enzymatically degraded to glucose and some short polymers of glucose. Another enzyme is then used to convert varying fractions of glucose into fructose,” says Jacobson. “High-fructose corn syrup just doesn’t exist in nature.” Corn syrup is a glucose-heavy syrup made from corn starch. There’s no fructose in corn syrup — not natural, in the least.

Another big problem with these commercials, is that they claim that just like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup isn’t unhealthy when consumed in moderation. But it’s hard to know exactly how much of it we’re actually consuming because it shows up in so many unexpected foods. (bread, pasta, fruit juice, childrens vitamins, bbq sauce, cereals, yogurts, condiments, etc… ). Because high-fructose corn syrup extends the shelf life of foods, and farm subsidies make it cheaper than sugar, it’s added to a staggering range of items, including fruity yogurts, cereals, crackers, ketchup and bread — and in most foods marketed to children.

Fructose is absorbed primarily in the jejunum before metabolism in the liver. Fructose is converted to fatty acids by the liver at a greater rate than is glucose.14 When consumed in excess of dietary glucose, the liver cannot convert all of the excess fructose in the system and it may be malabsorbed.

In humans, fructose feeding leads to mineral losses, especially higher fecal excretions of iron and magnesium.

Because it is metabolized by the liver, fructose does not cause the pancreas to release insulin the way it normally does. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar.

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