Monday, November 20, 2006

Is There High Fructose Corn Syrup In Your Soda?

Sugar is not bad. Sweet things are not bad. Some sugars are better for us than others, and any diet that is enhanced by regular exercise, is a good diet.

My mother used corn syrup in baking and cooking during my childhood. We were very poor and corn syrup was cheaper than refined sugar. I've even had tea with milk and corn syrup. It's not so bad.

I sort of liked the corn syrup bottle. The drips would crystallize into a sugar that resembled refined cane sugar and I remember scraping it off and eating little bits of it.

My friend cavebat writes about her childhood:

My small town was ringed by farms, most of them growing corn. Corn was supposed to grow "knee high by the 4th of July" but any farmer worth his salt knew it had better be TWICE that big to have a good crop.

The corn plant is a bright green color. It's linear, it grows over your head, and it's topped with a soft tuft of silky hair. I always thought it was such a happy plant, growing in its straight rows of bright, shiny green. Corn is nature, laughing in the sunshine.

And I used to wonder where all that corn WENT. I wasn't simple-minded enough to think it all ended up on people's plates as corn-on-the-cob. Although let me tell you that eating corn-on-the-cob that's been cooked MINUTES after it's picked is one of life's culinary JOYS.

The farmers used to pick it, sell it to you right from the plant, and muse that it tasted so good because when you picked it and ate it immediately - not like city folks who *snicker* let it sit around for days *snicker* - you were eating it before "the corn sugar turned into starch."
from Chubby Children of the Corn by Cavebat

Now, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has invaded the American diet in the most insidious manner. Cavebat's blog linked above discusses how HFCS has invaded not just our Coke and Ring-Dings, but every processed food on the market.

And HFCS cannot crystallize, because it is genetically altered to not crystallize. Sugar, whether it's dripped from a peach or settled at the bottom of my cup of tea, should be hard and crunchy.

HFCS does not crystallize. That's gross. Sugar that does not crystallize cannot be good for anyone!

Kim Severson, of the San Frnaciso Chrinicle writes:
Loading high fructose corn syrup into increasingly larger portions of soda and processed food has packed more calories into us and more money into food processing companies, say nutritionists and food activists. But some health experts argue that the issue is bigger than mere calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.

The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat.
from "Sugar coated - We're drowning in high fructose corn syrup. Do the risks go beyond our waistline?" Kim Severson, Chronicle Staff Writer

There is evidence that HFCS is linked to diabetes, not just obesity.

Mike Adams wrote, in 2004:
. . . I've been contacted by a couple of people from the Corn Refiners Association in Washington, D.C., who don't seem to appreciate the fact that I'm pointing out high-fructose corn syrup promotes diabetes. This CRA group, of course, represents corn growers, and corn growers depend on the revenues from high-fructose corn syrup so they can grow and sell their corn.

One of their reps has informed me that high-fructose corn syrup is a "wholesome natural ingredient" that does not promote diabetes and is produced by hard working farmers throughout the Midwest.

In other words, people who work for the Corn Refiners Association are insisting that high-fructose corn syrup doesn't promote diabetes. And yet, here we have research that followed 50,000 nurses showing an 80% increased risk of type 2 diabetes when people consumed either sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. And not in huge doses, by the way, all it took was one soft drink or one fruit drink a day to boost this risk of diabetes.
from Consumption of soft drinks and high-fructose corn syrup linked to obesity and diabetes

"The bodies of the children I see today are mush," observed a concerned chiropractor recently. The culprit is the modern diet, high in fructose and low in copper-containing foods, resulting in inadequate formation of elastin and collagen--the sinews that hold the body together.
from The Double Danger of High Fructose Corn Syrup, by Bill Sanda, BS, MBA

I have heard that HFCS may be harder on the human liver than alcohol! Then I found this:
Fructose is not metabolized the same as other sugars. Instead of being converted to glucose which the body uses, it is removed by the liver.

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. This may be one of the reasons Americans continue to get fatter.

Fructose raises serum triglycerides significantly. As a left-handed sugar, fructose digestion is very low. For complete internal conversion of fructose into glucose and acetates, it must rob ATP energy stores from the liver.
- The Double Danger of HFCS, By Bill Sanda, BS, MBA, Director of Public Affairs, The Weston A. Price Foundation

There is a Wikipedia entry on the health effects of HFCS, and even in an impartial forum, discussion always makes it way to obesity and diabetes.

You can always find news about HFCS at Google. It is widely discussed and the discussions are ignored by our agri-government.

Soda pop is probably the product that provides most of us with bad sugars, whether HFCS or artificial sugars. Here are two sodas that use cane sugar:

Boylan's (My favorite)

Virgil's Rootbeer

We can avoid HFCS, but it isn't easy. Your salad dressing, ketchup, breakfast cereals, snack cakes, and candy bars are just as loaded as your soda. But, knowledge is power! If people talk about the dangers of HFCS, then maybe its consumption will decrease.

Here are some more articles:

Fructose is No Answer For a Sweetener

The Murky World Of HFCS

The Double Danger of HFCS

Sweet but Not So Innocent? High-Fructose Corn Syrup May Act More Like Fat Than Sugar in the Body By Sally Squires - Washington Post Staff Writer

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Just tell me what to take


Mark Rabinowitz said...

Did you know that in Europe there's no HFCS in Coke. Tastes MUCH better.

DM said...

Doesn't surprise me that EU has limitations of HFCS. They are against genetically engineered crops, and HFCS is made with genetically engineered corn.

I miss my no-HFCS Coke!