There have been many claims as to the cause of obesity, from fat genes and a lack of exercise to fast food. But there are some ingredients that research suggests could play a role in causing wholesale weight gains. One such ingredient is high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS for short.
HFCS was a low-cost sweetener developed in the 1970’s. It was designed as a cheap sugar alternative that could be added to soft drinks, and it was found that transferring corn into syrup created a very sweet product.
Too Much Fructose? But that’s Natural, isn’t it?
Some research has suggested that fructose may cause more fat to be stored than normal, resulting in increased potential for weight gain. Fructose is metabolized into fat droplets in the liver, whereas other sugars are converted into glucose for blood sugar.
The potential problems of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) became clear as more people consumed large amount of soft drinks in their daily diets. This provided a large concentration of fructose at one sitting, and without much dilution from any other ingredients.
Normally fructose is found naturally in fruit although, in much smaller quantities. An average piece of fruit may only contain a couple of grams of fructose sugar; the rest of its energy will come from other sugars like glucose. In small amounts, and in the presence of vitamins, minerals and especially fiber, our digestive system can metabolize small quantities of fructose perfectly well.
However, soft drinks don’t contain fiber, which helps to regulate digestion. Some sodas may also contain up to ten times more fructose than fruit.
Some evidence has shown that fructose is converted into fat in the liver, rather than into glucose like the way many other forms of carbohydrates are processed. Another concern is that fructose doesn’t cause the release of insulin so more fructose can build up in the liver causing further potential for fat storage.
Fructose has also been shown to induce high blood pressure in some people. It could also cause insulin resistance, which can be a precursor to diabetes.
With obesity and the associated health problems becoming more prevalent in our society, the last thing we need is more potential fat storage problems. This may be the best time to kick the habit of consuming large volumes of soft drinks, and a good way to lower the total sugar intake in the diet.
High-fructose corn syrup may be found in other food sources, such as:
- Processed sauces
- Some fruit juices
- Some fruit yogurts
- Soft drinks
Unfortunately, as our society evolves, we are finding that many of our break-through discoveries actually do more harm than good. As with most things – natural is best.