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                                                                 Fructose Corn Syrup
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Fructose Corn syrup

Made from 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 metabolism.

We normally 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 this.

Sucrose is 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 live young.

While soft 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.

Fructose 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.

Americans with 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 high-fructose diets.

Fructose in 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.