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