cornstarch high-fructose corn syrup is a thick liquid that contains two
basic sugar building blocks, fructose and glucose, in roughly equal amounts.
Sucrose, most familiar to consumers as table sugar, is a larger sugar
molecule that breaks down into glucose and fructose in the intestine during
think of sugar cane and sugar beets when we think of sugar. Extraction of
sugar from sugar cane spurred the colonization of the New World. Extraction
of sugar from beets was developed during the time of Napoleon so that the
French could have sugar in spite of the English trading blockade. Nobody
thinks of sugar when they see a field of corn. Most of us would be surprised
to learn that the larger percentage of sweeteners used in processed food
today, comes from corn, not sugar cane or beets.
During the past
four decades, the USDA figures show the type of sweeteners consumed, not
from sugar cane or sugar beets, are a trend that some studies suggest may
help to undermine appetite control and possibly play a large role in weight
gain. The process for making the sweetener high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
out of corn was developed in the 1970s. HFCS is almost certainly made from
genetically modified corn and then it is processed with genetically modified
enzymes to allow it to be heated at very high temperatures before it becomes
un-stable. Consumers trying to avoid genetically modified foods may consider
composed of glucose and fructose. In a study provided by A team of
investigators at the USDA, led by Dr. Meira Field discovered that sugar
given to rats in high amounts, that the rats develop multiple health
problems, especially when the rats were deficient in certain nutrients, such
as copper. The researchers wanted to know whether it was the fructose or a
part, portion, or share of glucose that was causing the problems. So they
repeated their studies with two groups of rats, one was given high amounts
of glucose and one was given high amounts of fructose. The glucose group was
unaffected but the fructose group had disastrous results. The male rats did
not reach adulthood. They had anemia, high cholesterol and heart
hypertrophy—that means that their hearts enlarged until they exploded. They
also had delayed testicular development. Dr. Field explains that fructose in
combination with copper deficiency in the growing animal interferes with
collagen production. In a nutshell, the little bodies of the rats just fell
apart. The females were not so affected, but they were unable to produce
drinks and fruit beverages that are coming to the market and are the leading
products containing high-fructose corn syrup, plenty of other items, which
have been around for years, including cookies, gum, jams, jellies and baked
goods also contain this syrup. In fact energy bars and a huge array of
sweetened foods and beverages crowd grocery shelves, vending machines,
restaurant menus, school lunches and kitchens.
An advantage of
high-fructose corn syrup is that it "tastes sweeter than refined sugar,"
making it a popular ingredient for food manufacturers because it enables
them to use less. As a liquid, the syrup is easier to blend into beverages
than refined sugar at a price just pennies below that of refined sugar,
amounting to millions of dollars if not hundreds of millions of dollars in
savings to the manufacturers.
There may be
some unexpected nutritional consequences of using the syrup fructose.
"Fructose is absorbed differently" than other sugars. It doesn't register in
the body metabolically the same way that glucose does. Certain biochemical
reactions take place; glucose increases production of insulin by the
pancreas, which enables sugar in the blood to be transported into cells,
where it can be used for energy. Glucose increases production of leptin, a
hormone that helps regulate appetite and fat storage, and it suppresses
production of another hormone made by the stomach, ghrelin, that helps
regulate food intake. It has been theorized that when ghrelin levels drop,
as they do after eating carbohydrates composed of glucose, hunger declines.
however, acts more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body
weight regulation. Fructose doesn't stimulate insulin secretion. Fructose
doesn't increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin. That
suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat,
could contribute to weight gain and obesity contributes to hypertension.
hypertension increased by about 30 percent over the past decade. Data from
1988 to 1994 found that about 50 million people had
hypertension. In 1966, refined sugar, also known as sucrose,
accounted for 86 percent of sweeteners used at the time according to the
USDA. Today, sweeteners made from corn-- top out as number-1. The National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has shown that controlling sodium, most of
which is hidden in processed and prepared foods, reduces blood pressure.
Because studies have shown soft drinks contribute to weight gain, that adds
to evidence that the high-fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks may
increase the risk of obesity and diabetes and, in turn, hypertension. In
animals, fructose leads to hypertension. In fact, pharmaceutical companies
test new anti-hypertensive medications on hypertensive rats, fed
the liver contributes to the conversion into the chemical called
triglycerides more efficiently than does glucose. Elevated levels of
triglycerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. There's no
one single source of the obesity epidemic or the onslaught of diabetes in
America. It is certain that obesity forms a catalyst for many diseases.