Natural Health and Wellness for the Whole Family

The Low-Down on High Fructose Corn Syrup

By Sarah Axtell, ND October 20, 2011

We all hear that we are supposed to avoid high fructose corn syrup, but do you know why? There is a great article highlighting the rationale of avoiding the sweet stuff published on the Weston A. Price foundation website. Here are the basics:

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFSC) is a refined carbohydrate devoid of any vitamins and minerals. It is well-known that consumption of refined carbs increases your risk of diabetes and obesity.

2. Fructose, which is found in HFCS, is metabolized differently than glucose, which is found in table sugar. As stated in the article cited above, “Glucose enters the cells through the action of insulin; fructose enters the cells through the action of something called Glut-5 transporter, which does not depend on insulin. This transporter is absent from pancreatic B-cells and the brain, which indicates limited entry of fructose into these tissues. Glucose provides “satiety” signals to the brain, which fructose cannot provide because it is not transported into the brain.” Thus, your brain does not tell you are full when eating something with HFCS in it, increasing your risk of weight gain.

3. HFCS converts to triglycerides and stored fat. Chronic high triglycerides translate into increased risk of chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

4. You may be thinking, “What about fruit? Isn’t fruit made up of fructose?” Indeed, the sugar found in fruit is fructose. However, there is a difference between the fructose in fruit and HFCS. Fruit is part of a complex made up of fiber, other sugars, vitamins and minerals. This is a more complex entity as compared to HFCS, thus more readily metabolized and absorbed. HFCS is highly refined. As explained by Russ Bianchi, Managing Director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc., a globally recognized food and beverage development company, “the fructose in HFCS is therefore not recognized in the human Krebs cycle for primary conversion to blood glucose in any significant quantity, and therefore cannot be used for energy utilization.” In other words, we cannot efficiently break down HFCS and it is rather stored as adipose tissue, or body fat.

Now that you know WHY to avoid HFCS, here are some practical tips on choosing a sweetener in the kitchen and staying healthy:

Avoid white sugar, brown sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.

Avoid the so-called “healthy” alternatives to sugar like evaporated cane juice and agave. Agave is like a “natural high fructose corn syrup.” In fact, the Glycemic Research Institute has halted its 5 year study on agave syrup because the side effects on diabetics were so serious. The Institute has legally ‘de-listed’ agave, and warned manufacturers that they can be held legally liable for the effects of agave. For the full story, click here.

-Maple syrup, dates, apple sauce, stevia, molasses and bananas are all good sources of natural sweeteners that can be used when cooking and baking. I particularly love maple syrup not only because of the delicious flavor it provides in baked goods but also because of its mineral content. Maple syrup is an excellent source of Manganese and a good source of Zinc, Iron, Calcium and Magnesium. Choose grade B maple syrup, which is darker in color and more nutrient dense. You can whip maple syrup into baked goods,  drizzle it into sweet potatoes, and add it to sweet-n-savory marinades.

-When cooking with these alternative natural sweeteners, always combine a fat or a protein with it to prevent huge spikes in blood sugar.

Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.


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