High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is certainly not the only culprit responsible for our rising numbers on the scale or for our increase in health problems. However, it has recently been under a lot of heat from health experts as having a positive correlation on the ever expanding waistlines of Americans.
Experts have found yet another scapegoat to blame for increasing the numbers of our overweight and obese population. However, is it all hype or is there fact behind these concerns? What exactly is the link between HFCS and obesity? The two areas of concern that health experts are looking at involves the effects of the metabolism of fructose and the increased consumption of sweetened beverages containing HFCS.
Fructose is a simple sugar that is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. However, it is metabolized differently from other sugars such as glucose, sucrose, and table sugar. Glucose creates a feeling of satiety when consumed. Here’s how it works. Glucose moves into our cells via the hormone insulin, which releases another hormone known as leptin, responsible for creating that feeling of being full.
Fructose, however, does not metabolize in the same manner. Insulin is not released when fructose is ingested therefore the intake of the sugar is not registered. This translates into your body not recognizing the sugar, leading to over consumption.
High fructose corn syrup is man made by converting glucose into fructose and creating a blend between these two forms. For the food industry, this results in a cheaper alternative to regular sugar.
High fructose corn syrup erupted in food industries with the rising cost of sugar cane. It therefore, became much cheaper for giant food corporations, such as Pepsi and Coke, to use HFCS made from corn. Its costs less to grow and produce. HFCS is also found in many processed foods and even fast foods.
Current evidence does not condemn HFCS as being any more responsible for obesity than other sources of sugar, but we do know that there is a link between the overconsumption of sweetened beverages and weight gain.
The best advice for the weight-conscious is to try to limit consumption of sweetened beverages and processed foods with added sugars. Make smarter choices such as choosing fresh fruit rather than fruit juice or fruit flavored drinks. Drink less soda or opt for diet beverages. Also keep in mind, drinking milk instead of sodas or juice can help to limit your intake of HFCS.
Even though HFCS has been linked to an increase in the growing number of overweight and obese Americans, there many other factors that also contribute to our growing waistlines. This can be found in many of our lifestyle choices and dietary behaviors such as supersizing portions, eating on the go, social and emotional eating, and the list goes on and on.
FoodFacts.com believes educating ourselves is the first step in working towards a healthier future by providing ourselves with the tools and knowledge to make better decisions.
Sources: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Nutrition Today, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Photo Source: The Pack