High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a common sweetener found in sodas, candies, fruit flavoured drinks, pre-packaged foods… in other words, it is found in virtually all processed foods. Take a few minutes to look at the ingredients labels in your cabinets and fridge.
Although fructose is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruits and vegetables, it is the refined forms of fructose used primarily as a food additive that is being discussed. In fact, the highest source of fructose and HFCS in the north American diet comes from sodas and other sugary drinks.
Although in terms of calories and chemical structure, sugars are very similar to one another, the body appears to metabolize fructose very differently than the rest.
In animal models, high fructose diets cause the development of obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia.
Although much controversy and debate still surround the effects of high fructose intake in humans, given epidemiological data, it is still best to avoid it for a variety of reasons:
- High fructose corn syrup is mostly added to products that are processed, refined, pre-packaged, nutrient-poor products, i.e. junk foods and sodas, the things that we should be avoiding anyway.
- Excess sugar intake, in any form, has undeniable health implications and is associated with increased body weight, diabetes and other metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.
- Fructose intake is associated with increased risk of pancreatic and small intestinal cancers, and possibly others.
Bottom line: reduce your overall consumption of sugar, processed and refined foods, and increase your intake of healthy whole foods, fruits and vegetables. Your body will thank you!
Some interesting journal articles:
Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2012 Oct;19(5):367-74.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22922366
Am J Clin Nutr April 2004 vol. 79 no. 4 http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/4/537.full
Cancer Res August 1, 2010 70;6368.