The Dangers of High-Fructose Corn Syrup

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is healthy because fructose is found in fruit, right?  Wrong.

Coke contained traditional cane-sugar until 1984 when the sugar was replaced entirely with HFCS.

Fructose is found in fruit, but fructose is not healthy.  A USDA study observed that rats fed large amounts of sugar developed numerous health problems.  Normal sugar, called sucrose, is a molecule composed of equal parts of two smaller molecules–glucose and fructose, and the researchers wanted to know whether the problems were the result of the glucose or the fructose portion.  They repeated their studies on two groups of rats, feeding one group high amounts of glucose and feeding the other high amounts of fructose.  The results were dramatic.  The group of rats receiving the glucose was unaffected, but the group receiving the fructose developed numerous devastating health problems, including anemia, high cholesterol, enlarged heart, and infertility.

Furthermore, according to Dr. Meira Field who led the study, every cell of the body can metabolize glucose, while only the liver can metabolize fructose.  She stated that “the livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic.”

Fructose found in natural foods does not usually pose such a health risk.  In normal sugar, fructose is bound up in a larger molecule along with glucose and is less available for absorption.  Similarly, fructose found in natural foods like fruit is accompanied by a wealth of other healthy components of the food that minimize its detrimental effects.  It is unwise to consume large amounts of pure fruit juice because of the concentrated fructose, however, consuming naturally occurring fructose in moderation is generally not dangerous.

HFCS, on the other hand, is very dangerous.  First, it does not qualify as “naturally occurring”.  HFCS is produced by taking corn starch and exposing it to a complex chain of enzymes and chemical reactions that break it down, first into glucose, and then into high-percentage fructose.  The corn that is used is genetically modified, and the enzymes used to break it down into fructose are also genetically modified.  HFCS is not natural in any sense of the word.

Second, consuming HFCS does not qualify as “consuming fructose in moderation.”  Far from it.  HFCS contains approximately 55% fructose, which is a higher amount than in natural sugar.  Unlike the fructose in natural sugar or fruit, this fructose is free–that is, it is not bound to any other molecule that may slow its absorption or reduce its physiological effects.

HFCS has helped cause the epidemics of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes that have occurred in recent decades.  This is especially true in children, who consume a disproportionate amount of it.

Why the use of HFCS instead of natural sugar?  Because it tastes just like sugar and is cheaper.  It’s cheaper because large grain corporations have successfully lobbied the federal government to subsidize corn production.  The government pays farmers to overproduce corn and sell it extremely cheaply to grain processing companies like those who make HFCS.  In other words, your tax dollars pay for HFCS even if you’re not buying it.

Despite the complicity of our government in creating the supply of HFCS, food producers will respond to consumer outrage over HFCS when people start refusing to buy products that contain it.  All people have to do is start reading food labels and stop buying products that contain HFCS or anything similar like corn syrup or corn sugar.

People must realize that they have the power of the purse.

Source:  The Murky World of High-Fructose Corn Syrup, by Linda Joyce Forristal, CTA, MTA, Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2001.

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About Patrick Crawford

Patrick Crawford was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended college and law school at the University of Notre Dame, spending one year during law school studying at Notre Dame’s campus in London, England. He is now living and practicing family law in Annapolis, Maryland. When he is not practicing law, he follows the strong interest that he has acquired in the interaction between big business, government, the media, and the lives of individuals affected by these influences. He is particularly interested in the severely negative effects these forces have on nutrition, food production processes, local agriculture, and therefore, on health. He hopes that, through his articles, he will be able to educate others on the importance of traditional and sustainable foodways and agricultural practices, for the sake of both individual health and the security of local food systems. He runs his own website, called: National Fork.
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4 Responses to The Dangers of High-Fructose Corn Syrup

  1. Tony Phylactou says:

    I had my first gout attack about 10 years ago.
    At the beginning I was having attacks every 6 months. Then gradually I was getting them
    every 3 months, then every month and eventually every week.
    It started at my big toe and then it was moving sometimes in my knees,and generally all
    around my joints, in my feet.And the pain was agonising.
    I have tried all the cures you can imagine.I tried ACV, lemons, drinking a lot of water, but
    to no avail.I tried water fasting, juice fasting,baking soda, again without success.
    I almost gave up meat, limiting it to only once a week ,gave up alcohol completely,again
    no success.
    I was living on vegetables, lots and lots of fresh fruit, milk ,cheese beans and so on .My
    eating habits could not be healthier ,or so I thought.But my gout was worsening.
    Then I decided to increase the amount of fruit I was consuming, thinking that if some fruit
    is healthy, more fruit will be more healthy.Some days I was eating fruit only ,others over 10
    portions a day.
    And alas my gout instead of improving it became chronic.
    I was desperate I did not know what to do.
    And then one day accidentally I read an article about fructose,which is contained in fruit in
    large quantities.It said that it increases uric acid, in a matter of minutes.
    Fructose is also present in table sugar, and in HFCS, which is used in soft drinks.
    I put two and two together and realised what I was doing wrong.
    I stopped eating fruit and all other sugars, for a period of 3 weeks,and by magic I saw a
    dramatic improvement.Pain was gone, swelling was gone, I was fine.
    I re introduced fruit again in my diet but reducing them to 1 or 2 a day, and my gout completely
    disappeared.
    I do eat more meat now, and occasionally have an alcoholic drink, and thank God everything
    seems to be fine.
    Fructose was my enemy.

  2. Mary says:

    Thanks for a really informative article. Found it really useful and educational.

  3. Tim says:

    A really interesting article. Never realised how unhealthy some foods are because of this glucose frustose syrup. Thanks for the information.

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