If you look at the packaging of any sweet food product these days, you’ll likely see “high fructose corn syrup” somewhere among the top ingredients listed. Why does it appear so often and so high? It’s sweet and it’s cheap, the two things companies look for when selecting sweeteners. High fructose corn syrup has made the news lately as it’s been attacked as the reason for the obesity problem in America. As a result, there have been a lot of studies investigating the effects of the stuff on the human body. Besides it’s contributions towards diabetes and the fact it makes people want to eat more, there are a whole host of negative effects no one even mentions. Let’s begin by discussing what exactly the stuff is and then go into the negative effects.
What exactly is high fructose corn syrup? It’s 55% fructose and 45% glucose, which is 5% more fructose than your standard table sugars (they’re 50-50 fructose-glucose). You wouldn’t think that the 5% matters but there is a huge difference. When combined, fructose binds to glucose. In the 50-50 mix, all the fructose is bound to all the glucose. In the 55-45 mix, 10% of the fructose is sitting there free. Those free fructose molecules, after they enter the body, will alter how the heart consumes minerals such as magnesium, copper, and chromium. (if you have elevated levels of magnesium, you run the risk of Osteoporosis)
Why is high fructose corn syrup bad for you? (you mean besides a greater chance of Diabetes and Osteoporosis?) The liver takes fructose or glucose and converts it into triglycerides. Fructose is easier to convert than glucose so with the higher percentages of fructose, you get higher level of triglycerides. Elevated levels of triglycerides can lead to heart disease… that’s just one reason why it’s bad for you.
Here’s where it starts getting a little murky in terms of the negative effects. If you consume a lot of fructose, your body will show higher levels of uric acid. Uric acid may be a symptom of heart disease, researchers haven’t conclusively linked the two, but it definitely is a symptom of gout. Gout is where crystal-like structures develop in your joints, it’s extremely painful.
But wait there’s more. High fructose corn syrup also increases your levels of low-density lipoproteins, or LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind). LDL cholesterol is the type that sticks to your arteries!
(Photo by Mrs. Magic)