The Corn Refiners Association has recently sponsored ads on national television promoting high fructose corn syrup. This was appalling to Roufia Payman, director of nutrition education at Northern Duchess Hospital in Rhineback. That is because, as a licensed nutritionist, she knows full well how bad high fructose corn syrup is and that it is not the same as its sugar counterpart, even though that is what the commercials imply.
Just as appalling is the fact that the American Medical Association claims on its website, “AMA finds high fructose corn syrup unlikely to be more harmful to health than other caloric sweeteners.”
Many others are shocked at this, especially Payman. A registered dietitian, Thomas Buono, agrees with Payman that high fructose corn syrup should not be an ingredient in foods. He believes that too much sugar, regardless of where it comes from including syrup, honey, etc., is not good for you. However, high fructose corn syrup has even more qualities that should be questioned.
High fructose corn syrup may be claimed as “natural” because it is somehow made from corn, however it has been so highly processed that it does not process like other sugars do and they don’t provide any type of fullness like other sugars do, even if for a brief period of time.
What happens with high fructose corn syrup is that your blood sugar immediately spikes. It happens rapidly and it feels great, for a moment, but then the crash happens leaving you craving more.
This is not good for anyone’s body, but high fructose corn syrup places extra strain on the pancreas, the body’s organ that creates insulin. This is especially bad for people who have diabetes. A big problem is that Type II diabetes is rising across the country and many youths are being affected, too. This is a problem because people should eat fruits and vegetables as snacks, not foods filled with high fructose corn syrup.
Over a period of three years, more than three million more people have been affected by diabetes. In 2007, that number was 24 million and the spike over the past three years is scary. This information comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the number includes approximately 25% of people over 60. Even more staggering is the fact that 57 million people are affected by pre-diabetes and this is a condition that places people at risk for developing diabetes later in life.
Buono stated that high fructose corn syrup is a camouflage for sugar and since it is so concentrated, it promotes weight gain. This results in higher risk of diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and a host of other health problems. The problem for consumers is that high fructose corn syrup is in practically every processed food.
“According to the United States Department of Agriculture, high-fructose corn syrup accounts for roughly 41 percent of all nutritive sweeteners consumed yearly in the United States,” Payman said.
High fructose corn syrup is found in everything from cereal to yogurt and canned fruit to pasta sauce. Amazingly, bread that is considered “light” often contains this bad sweetener. Then, Payman says, there are sodas and that is another story.
In Pepsi, there are 28 grams of sugar and high fructose corn syrup is listed as the second ingredient followed by caramel color. According to the American Medical Association, no more than 32 grams of added sugars should be consumed per day in a 2,000-calorie diet. The long ago colas of six ounces are no more and have become super sized at 12 ounces or even a liter. As a result, people who drink non-diet colas are more than likely to soar past the recommendations by the AMA.
According to Buono, people should just drink water. However, just because you do not drink regular drinks you may still have problems with the diet versions. In general, when people drink sweetened beverages, even if they are non-caloric, people have an increased craving for sweets and eat more. That means they are more likely to gain weight despite drinking non-caloric beverages.
There are safety issues associated with chemical sweeteners, too. Diet sodas should only be reserved for once a week or once in awhile. Those who like their sodas, however, may have a choice when it comes to what they drink. Stevia is from South America and really sweet and non-caloric. Above all, it is natural and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
The biggest problem both Bueno and Payman have is that manufacturers try to play up a products so called nutritional values although it may be packed with many less than desirable ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils.
What is most important is that consumers be aware of what they are buying and never assume that because a food implies that it is healthy that it actually is. For example, Kellogg’s Smart Start sounds like a healthy cereal. However, it has a great deal of sugar including high fructose corn syrup. Consumers should read labels and know what they are putting in their bodies.
Above all, people should cook whole foods for themselves. When people eat vegetables, whole grains, and other natural foods they will be more satisfied while feeling full longer.