The other day I mentioned Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in relation to Bush's plan to push ethanol made from corn. Not to surprising the primary beneficiary will be none other than ADM, "the most prominent recipient of corporate welfare in recent U.S. history". Well there is another highly subsidized unit of ADM's business that may be killing you, high fructose corn syrup. So what is HFCS?
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a form of corn syrup which has undergone enzymatic processing in order to increase its fructose content.So what is the downside of HFCS? Corn subsidies in the US in resulted in corn surpluses making HFCS cheaper than sugar from cane or beets. Shortly after the Japanese developed the process to make sweetener from corn in 1970 it's use became widespread in the food industry. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004 explains the result.
The production process of HFCS was developed first by Japanese researchers in the 1970s. HFCS was rapidly introduced in many processed foods and soda drinks in the US over the period of about 1975–1985.
HFCS is comparable to table sugar (sucrose) in sweetness. This makes it useful to manufacturers as a possible substitute for sugar in soft drinks and other processed foods.
Since its introduction, HFCS has begun to replace sugar in various processed foods. The main reasons for this switch are:
- HFCS is somewhat cheaper due to corn subsidies and sugar import tariffs; a phenomenon in the United States.
- HFCS is easier to blend and transport because it is a liquid.
- HFCS has a much longer shelf life.
An overweight America may be fixated on fat and obsessed with carbs, but nutritionists say the real problem is much sweeter -- we're awash in sugar.Both more and different.
Not just any sugar, but high fructose corn syrup.
The country eats more sweetener made from corn than from sugarcane or beets, gulping it down in drinks as well as in frozen food and baked goods. Even ketchup is laced with it.
Almost all nutritionists finger high fructose corn syrup consumption as a major culprit in the nation's obesity crisis. The inexpensive sweetener flooded the American food supply in the early 1980s, just about the time the nation's obesity rate started its unprecedented climb.
The question is why did it make us so fat. Is it simply the Big Gulp syndrome -- that we're eating too many empty calories in ever-increasing portion sizes? Or does the fructose in all that corn syrup do something more insidious -- literally short-wire our metabolism and force us to gain weight?
Loading high fructose corn syrup into increasingly larger portions of soda and processed food has packed more calories into us and more money into food processing companies, say nutritionists and food activists. But some health experts argue that the issue is bigger than mere calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.While much of the HFCS comes from soda it's everywhere!
The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat.
So, the answer is to just avoid soda, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple, because the inexpensive, versatile sweetener has crept into plenty of other places -- foods you might not expect to have any at all. A low-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt, for example, can have 10 teaspoons of fructose-based sweetener in one serving.And it's not just obesity.
Because high fructose corn syrup mixes easily, extends shelf-life and is as much as 20 percent cheaper than other sources of sugar, large-scale food manufacturers love it. It can help prevent freezer burn, so you'll find it on the labels of many frozen foods. It helps breads brown and keeps them soft, which is why hot dog buns and even English muffins hold unexpected amounts.
The Double Danger of High Fructose Corn Syrup
For many years, Dr. Meira Fields and her coworkers at the US Department of Agriculture investigated the harmful effects of dietary sugar on rats. They discovered that when male rats are fed a diet deficient in copper, with sucrose as the carbohydrate, they develop severe pathologies of vital organs. Liver, heart and testes exhibit extreme swelling, while the pancreas atrophies, invariably leading to death of the rats before maturity.Increased heart disease and bone loss!
Sucrose is a disaccharide composed of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. Dr. Fields repeated her experiments to determine whether it was the glucose or fructose moiety that caused the harmful effects. Starch breaks down into glucose when digested. On a copper-deficient diet, the male rats showed some signs of copper deficiency, but not the gross abnormalities of vital organs that occur in rats on the sucrose diet. When the rats were fed fructose, the fatal organ abnormalities occured.
Lysl oxidase is a copper-dependent enzyme that participates in the formation of collagen and elastin. Fructose seems to interfere with copper metabolism to such an extent that collagen and elastin cannot form in growing animals--hence the hypertrophy of the heart and liver in young males. The females did not develop these abnormalities, but they resorbed their litters.1
These experiements should give us pause when we consider the great increase in the use of high fructose corn syrup during the past 30 years, particularly in soft drinks, fruit juices and other beverages aimed at growing children, children increasingly likely to be copper deficient as modern parents no longer serve liver to their families. (Liver is by far the best source of copper in human diets.)
"The bodies of the children I see today are mush," observed a concerned chiropractor recently. The culprit is the modern diet, high in fructose and low in copper-containing foods, resulting in inadequate formation of elastin and collagen--the sinews that hold the body together.
Another concern is the action of fructose in the liver, where it is converted into the chemical backbone of trigylcerides more efficiently than glucose. Like low-density lipoprotein -- the most damaging form of cholesterol -- elevated levels of trigylcerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. A University of Minnesota study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000 found that in men, but not in women, fructose "produced significantly higher [blood] levels" than did glucose. The researchers, led by J.P Bantle, concluded that "diets high in added fructose may be undesirable, particularly for men."So not only ADM feeding at the public trough, your tax dollars, the food it is putting in your trough is killing you.
Other recent research suggests that fructose may alter the magnesium balance in the body. That could, in turn, accelerate bone loss, according to a USDA study published in 2000 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.