Friday, May 13, 2011

High fructose corn syrup, sugar and your health

A table sugar (technically called sucrose) molecule model.   Sucrose is made of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
There has been a lot of controversy in recent years centering around high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Public opinion appears to be turning against it and current research also does not appear to favor it either. Considering in the 80's HFCS replaced table sugar in many processed foods as a better, healthier option, it is interesting that the public now may want regular table sugar instead of HFCS again.  Recently a coworker informed me of a recent New York Times article published last month.

While the article is long, it is excellent and full of great science based information.  Well worth reading all the way through.  As the title suggests it is not simply about HFCS but sugar in general and its negative health consequences.  The negative consequences of table sugar and HFCS do however center around fructose.  While HFCS is typically 55% fructose and 45% glucose, table sugar (technically known as sucrose) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose.  So there really isn't much difference between table sugar and HFCS.  According to the article the problem with fructose is in how its processed by the body.  Here is a summary of what's in the article:

-The average american eats 90 pounds of refined sugar annually (includes both table sugar and HFCS).
-While glucose is processed by every cell of the body, fructose is primarily processed by the liver.
-When the liver processes fructose much of it is converted into fat which is deposited in and around the liver.  Fat is also deposited around the mid section.
-A fatty liver is connected with heart disease and insulin resistance. 
-Type 2 diabetes is a result of insulin resistance.
-Cancer may also be connected with these negative health consequences.

Other research has also found 1/3 of HFCS products contaminated with mercury (click here).  This contamination is likely due to the processing of corn into HFCS.

I personally have eliminated nearly all sugar and HFCS from my diet for these reasons but I would be interested in what other people think.  How does this information affect you if at all?  

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