Corn sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as it is more commonly called, is the most common sweetener which is used in processed foods and beverages. In fact, HFCS comprises more than 40 percent of caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages and is the sole caloric sweetener in soft drinks in the United States. It is adored by the food industry because it is extremely sweet, incredibly cheap, easy to transport and keeps foods moist. Like its chemical cousin table sugar (sucrose), it has raised eyebrows in the research world and prompted a growing body of studies which examine the manner in which the body processes it. The general consensus is that consumption of large quantities of any type of sugar is closely linked to dental cavities, obesity, malnutrition, and increased triglycerides. One study which was published in Metabolism Journal discovered that individuals who drank a beverage sweetened with HFCS had fructose blood levels five grams higher than those consuming a beverage sweetened with table sugar. This may not seem like much, but when you consider the cumulative effects, HFCS becomes a much more insidious dietary villain.
Let’s examine the composition of HFCS. This substance contains from 43 to 55 percent fructose with the remainder as glucose. In contrast, sucrose is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. Both are quite similar except when it comes to chemical bonds. When HFCS is made from cornstarch, the fructose molecules are not bound to other sugar molecules, while with sucrose, every fructose molecule is bound to a glucose molecule. When sucrose is ingested, it must undergo an extra metabolic step before the body can use it. With HFCS, the body reacts to the fructose readily. The problem is that fructose has no effect on glucose levels and insulin release (in other words, it skips glycolysis) and thus will not trigger the release of leptin (the hormone which signals your body to stop eating when it is full) nor create a feeling of satiety. This can lead to a higher caloric intake with a corresponding body weight increase. Basically, HFCS tricks the body into thinking it’s hungry when it may already be full.
Foods Containing Large Levels of HFCS
· Regular soft drinks
· Salad dressings
· Breakfast cereals
· Frozen yogurts
· Canned soups
· Canned fruits (if not in their own juice)
· Jarred and canned pasta sauces
· Fruit-flavored yogurts
· Pancake syrups fruit juice and fruit drinks
· Ketchup and barbecue sauces
Make sure to check ingredient listings, especially with the foods listed above, and try to avoid HFCS whenever possible.