High fructose corn syrup has been raising eyebrows for decades — especially with rising obesity rates in the United States. So, what’s the story and what does that mean for you?
What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
Despite common belief, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) isn’t the same as regular corn syrup. It’s created using an enzyme that changes glucose to fructose — a simple sugar made for our body. However, glucose is the simple sugar our body primarily uses for energy — not fructose.
Many processed food and beverage products are created using a blend of regular corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. But why? Sometime in the 1980’s, it became much cheaper for companies to use HFCS because cane sugar prices were going up. Now, a vast amount of sweetened consumer goods are using HFCS to keep things frugal and convenient.
HFCS and Your Weight
Nowadays, people gawk when they discover HFCS in their food and beverages. It’s frequently associated with weight gain and other serious health risks. What’s the deal?
- Over-consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages packs in extra calories
- Portion sizes have increased to carry extra sugars, calories and fats
- Ingesting fructose doesn’t help your body release insulin
- Fructose products may not bring feelings of satiety as compared to other foods
- High fructose diets may increase the formation and storage of fat
- Ingesting fructose is strongly tied to insulin resistance
What You Need to Know
All of this sounds pretty bad for HFCS. But in reality, most products that use it don’t use it 100 percent. For example, a bottle of apple juice might only be 65 percent fructose and sweetened with other ingredients, too. A semi-recent review conducted by the United States Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy found that while overall calories from fructose in the U.S. have increased, the ratio of fructose to glucose has pretty much stayed constant since the 1960’s.
So, what’s the important takeaway here?
There is much debate and mixed reviews surrounding HFCS and weight management. While we don’t know the direct relationship, we do know that too many sweetened foods and beverages aren’t good for the body and can result in long-term weight gain.
So, keep an eye out on nutrition labels when you’re consuming some of these processed goods. Also pay special attention to portion sizes, and remember that whole foods and plenty of water should always be your primary nutritional goal.
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