Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
3,293 8/23/13 1:03 P
Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma has a good explanation of some of the social and environmental reasons why high-fructose corn syrup is a bad thing. All of his books are very much worth reading.
As far as nutrition, it is about as bad for you as any other sugar, but if you don't eat processed/packaged food products, it is very easy to avoid. If you are eating a lot of commercial food products, you are probably getting quite a bit of HFCS.
Mostly because it's another form of sugar manufacturers can list on a label without having to actually just say, "sugar." There are so many variants now that they get away with... If we realized all (or most) of our foods tend toward such high quantities of sugar, at least SOME of us would avoid them. As it is, sugar is down the list a ways, because they don't have to label it by volume (which would put it right on top of the list!).
The main problem with HFCS is that it is a major ingredient in many processed foods and processed foods are not designed with anyone's health in mind. They are designed to sell (and what tastes best sells) and so they are often loaded with things like sugar and salt. If you had a little bottle of HFCS and used a small amount to sweeten your morning oatmeal, it wouldn't be a problem. But, it's something that shouldn't be a large part of our diets as it's basically empty calories.
Sadly, the food manufacturers are making sugar (in all its forms) a major component of the average American's diet (and they are adding in a bunch of salt that we don't need too).
It's not the HFCS that's the problem, it's the amount of it and of other sugars and salt, etc. that manufacturers use in their processed foods that's the problem. For example, HFCS will be a main ingredient (maybe second on the list of ingredients) in a box of cereal (it's cheap and so manufacturers tend to use more of it than other sugars) and then they will add in sugar in other forms as well so that the actual most common ingredient in what you are eating is sugar.
Continuing on with boxed cereals as an example... Cereal isn't even anywhere near the worst processed food that you can buy. But, many of them are actually not as good of a choice as a lot of us might think (although there do seem to be a few that are decent choices). I am personally not a fan of boxed cereals (although my husband loves them). This is why I'm not a fan:
Take a look at your cereal box, HFCS may be second on the list and a couple of ingredients later, you'll see something like cane sugar... They like to separate it out like that because a lot of people would avoid these products if they did the honest thing and listed sugars as the first (most common) ingredient followed by a set of parenthesis with all the different kinds of sugars they put in the cereal. Would you buy a cereal that had an ingredient list that started with "sugars?" Most people wouldn't, but that's what we are unknowingly buying. It's very deceptive and they even try to convince you that it's healthy by listing something like whole wheat as the first ingredient and putting a claim of "an excellent source of whole grains" on the front of the package. Then, they will often add in a whopping amount of salt (even in things that are sweet) just to enhance the flavor and make it a little more tasty so we will buy it again and again. Then, they add in vitamins/minerals to make up for the fact that there aren't really any in the product they've made until they add them. IMO, you may as well eat a bunch of nutritionally devoid, empty, calories and then follow it up with a vitamin pill.
Personally i have read many things about this. The most recent I read that rings true is that it is higher in fructose (hence the name) by 10%. Fructose is what makes things sweet. This combined with the fact that it can be made dirt cheap is a lot of what makes it bad. Because it is cheap it is used in many more places than sugar would be.
Many experts disagree about whether it is essentially the same as sugar. Not being a nutritional researcher I can't answer that but I have read many accounts that say it is basically the same except for the fructose level and I have read accounts that say it isn't. I think we have to look at each source and find out if they represent any particular interests (not just business interests but also supporting their line of research).
if the most processed thing you eat is peanut butter once or twice a week i'd say you're fine to aim for the 5 of a day on fruits. now this is what i remember from the dark ages of my high school career. in chemistry we did discuss hfcs. and it's the addition of the extra fructose that causes hfcs to be stable. and it's that little thing that makes it not quite right, but not quite off. in other words, fructose by itself does what fructose is supposed to do. when you glom it all together to make hfcs it bumps up the ratio of fructose. and so that means you have a more stable sugar [longer lasting] that can more easily assimilate into other foods [you can use it as a wet ingredient in recipes], which was the entire goal of making the stuff. and since it's no longer in the fruit, everything that balances the fructose [fiber, vitamins, minerals] out isn't there to balance it out. if you're just having plain fructose, you're getting the balance of things. but it's the higher concentration of sugar in the absence of anything redeeming along with the food industry's tendency to throw it anything and everything that makes it an issue. it's also not something you could make at home without a fairly significant laboratory setup. if you wanted to make plain sugar, you could probably do that at home with a well stocked kitchen. same for corn syrup.
Fitness Minutes: (15,376)
1,939 8/22/13 8:58 A
It is evil. Just like honey, table sugar and sugar purified from fruit. Evil, because of how fast it enters your blood after eating and how the glucose in it causes insulin spikes that are bad for your metabolism and can encourage fat storage while the fructose in it goes straight to your liver to be converted to fat.
Fitness Minutes: (11,349)
33 8/22/13 8:08 A
I usually do refer to original research when I look things up, but this topic in particular is unclear to me and confusing. The studies I was able to acquire were of low quality. I could find a lot of inconsistencies in some like injecting rats with HFCS which we don't really do as humans, and most were done on animals not humans which makes the results inconclusive. I was able to get one study done on humans regarding insulin resistance, and high quantities were used in it - higher than an average person would consume.
My main issue is that none of the studies explained if it was HFCS as a compound or the fructose itself that had the adverse effects. From what I can see, same effects apply to normal sugar.
I was hoping someone would have an idea how this would relate to fruit fructose.
I personally never cared for HFCS packaged goods - except for some peanut butter every now and then - even before I started my weight loss journey. My worst vices were more salty than sweet. But the bad media made me concerned, because I've always loved fruits and I eat 3-6 pieces every day. Do you think I should replace some of that with vegetables and limit myself to 1-2 pieces?
Edited by: EIRENA at: 8/22/2013 (08:18)
Fitness Minutes: (14,252)
9,689 8/22/13 8:01 A
HFCS is sugar. Plain and simple. It doesn't have any metabolic-destroying powers. Too much of it isn't good for you; things sweetened with it are probably highly processed, prepackaged foods that you don't want much of, but beyond that, it's not worth worrying about.
your number one problem is that you are relying on sources from around the internet. anyone can make a website that spouts whatever opinion they want [the sky is green, olive oil causes cancer, walking a half mile a day causes heart attacks] and they don't have to have any sort of support to back it up. they write it with as much scientific mumbo jumbo as they want, but it doesn't have to be backed up in any way, shape or form. if you really want to find the actual data to back it up, you have to pay for it. you need access to scholarly journals that only publish peer reviewed studies. and that's pretty much only available by subscription. your local library system might buy access but your closest reputable higher level academic institution is more likely to have it. when you choose secondary sources, the original source can be muddled [intentionally or not]. remember when the news went crazy to add a serving of almonds to your diet because it did all these wonderous things? the actual study wasn't adding almonds to your diet it was replacing fats you were already eating with almonds. sometimes the stories that make the best news don't have as much to do with the actual study as one would like. if you really want to sate your scientific curiosity you need to stick to journal published stuff.
Fitness Minutes: (11,349)
33 8/22/13 12:10 A
First, let me exclaim that I'm asking this out of pure scientific curiosity. I don't demonise or praise HFCS, simply because it doesn't pose a problem for me as I mostly eat fresh and rarely eat HFCS packaged food (a tablespoon of peanut butter every couple of weeks) . All I read around the internet is that HFCS is the devil, and that it makes you sick and fat. I couldn't find a real explanation as to why, or what part of it is bad.
Some start by GMO corn (an issue I don't really believe in, and really don't feel like having debates about, so please leave it out), other websites start with trace mercury contamination and others mention that fructose itself acts as a fat more than it does as a sugar posing liver problems. I even read that the ratio between glucose and fructose in it is to blame. On other websites they mentioned that it has an effect on blood sugar and insulin.
So what's the evil part? Is it the mercury? How bad is the extent of contamination?
Is it the fructose? If it is, does fructose in it have the same molecular structure as that found in fruits? One medium apple for example has about 20 grams of sugar slightly more than half of it is fructose, so if fructose is bad, does it mean we're better off consuming vegetables for vitamins and fiber instead of fruits? If you look at peanut butter, it has 2 grams of sugar per tablespoon, so it contains less fructose than an apple. Does that mean packaged peanut butter is better than apples?
If fructose "acts like fat" isn't consuming moderate amounts of fat okay, even encouraged? If it's different from fat but just acts like it, isn't the liver capable of processing small amounts every now and then without adverse effects? If not, why do we eat fruits?
If it's the ratio with fructose being higher, in apples fructose to glucose is about 69% or so.
Is it the blood sugar? Then why do we allow ourselves potatoes, pasta and sometime even sugar and honey in moderation but not HFCS?
I'm really interested in finding real answers, mainly pure curiosity and partly because I love fruits and I'm concerned fructose could be a health risk from all the bad media around it.
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