Think of sugar and you think of sugar cane or beets.
Nobody thinks of sugar when they see a field of corn. Most of us would be surprised to learn that the larger percentage of sweeteners used in processed food comes from corn, not sugar cane or beets.
As the most abundant source of calories and one of the cheapest ingredients in our food supply, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has found its way into everything. Check labels! Make any amount of HFCS a deal breaker!
The use of HFCS has grown rapidly, from 3,000 tons in 1967 to almost 9,227,000 tons in 2005. During the late 1990s, use of sugar actually declined as it was eclipsed by HFCS. Today Americans consume more HFCS than sugar.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose, and then processing the glucose to produce a high percentage of fructose. It all sounds rather simple–white cornstarch is turned into crystal clear syrup. However, the process is actually very complicated. Three different enzymes are needed to break down cornstarch, which is composed of chains of glucose molecules of almost infinite length, into the simple sugars glucose and fructose.
HFCS has the exact same sweetness and taste as an equal amount of sucrose from cane or beet sugar but it is obviously much more complicated to make, involving vats of murky fermenting liquid, fungus and chemical tweaking, all of which take place in one of 16 chemical plants located in the Corn Belt. Yet in spite of all the special enzymes required, HFCS is actually cheaper than sugar. It is also very easy to transport–it’s just piped into tanker trucks. This translates into lower costs and higher profits for food producers.
Today HFCS is used to sweeten jams, condiments like ketchup, soft drinks and many other foods you wouldn’t even suspect. It is also a favorite ingredient in many so-called health foods. Check your food labels…you’ll be surprised.
There’s a couple of other murky things that consumers should know about HFCS. According to a food technology expert, two of the enzymes used, alpha-amylase and glucose-isomerase, are genetically modified to make them more stable. Enzymes are actually very large proteins and through genetic modification specific amino acids in the enzymes are changed or replaced so the enzyme’s “backbone” won’t break down or unfold. This allows the industry to get the enzymes to higher temperatures before they become unstable.
Aside from the fact that it’s genetically modified, there’s another reason to avoid HFCS. Consumers may think that because it contains fructose–which they associate with fruit, which is a natural food–that it is healthier than sugar. A team of investigators at the USDA, led by Dr. Meira Field, has discovered that this just ain’t so.
Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose. When sugar is given to rats in high amounts, the rats develop multiple health problems, especially when the rats were deficient in certain nutrients, such as copper. The researchers wanted to know whether it was the fructose or the glucose moiety that was causing the problems. So they repeated their studies with two groups of rats, one given high amounts of glucose and one given high amounts of fructose. The glucose group was unaffected but the fructose group had disastrous results. The male rats did not reach adulthood. They had anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy–that means that their hearts enlarged until they exploded. They also had delayed testicular development. Dr. Field explains that fructose in combination with copper deficiency in the growing animal interferes with collagen production. (Copper deficiency, by the way, is widespread in America.) In a nutshell, the little bodies of the rats just fell apart. The females were unable to produce live young.
“The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar,” says Dr. Field, “but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic.”
HFCS contains more fructose than sugar and this fructose is more immediately available because it is not bound up in sucrose. Since the effects of fructose are most severe in the growing organism, we need to think carefully about what kind of sweeteners we give to our children.
Because of the way our hormones react to HFCS, if you eat or drink HFCS, you’ll actually continue to consume more calories, even 24 hrs later than you would had you just eaten plain table sugar. HFCS also increases triglycerides. Simply put – HFCS prevents leptin production….that’s the hormone that tells you to stop eating.
Go through your cupboards…check your labels…and get rid of this poison!
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