The unhealthy truth about high-fructose corn syrup

October 5, 2015

Eating too much sugar is bad for you, but some evidence suggests that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can be even worse. We'll go over the research on this incredibly common ingredient so that you can make the smart decision.

The unhealthy truth about high-fructose corn syrup
  • When you think of "heart attack" foods, you probably imagine marbled steaks and cream sauces, rather than soft drinks and sweets. However, sweets can be just as bad for your heart as fatty foods. For instance, studies show that a diet rich in fructose (whether from HFCS or table sugar)  causes the liver to produce large amounts of artery-clogging fats called triglycerides.
  • One study at the University of Minnesota found that triglyceride levels soared 32 percent in young men fed a high-fructose diet for six weeks.
  • Studies also show that people who consume a lot of sweets have low levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, which is the stuff that helps keep arteries free of gunk. What's more, animals fed high-sugar diets develop high blood pressure, and studies suggest the same may be true of humans.
  • As for women, those who consume one or more non-diet soft drinks per day increase their risk of type 2 diabetes by 83 percent. That doesn't mean that a bottle of "natural" soda sweetened with pure cane sugar is a health tonic, but some research suggests that soda made with HFCS poses a greater diabetes threat.
  • Researchers at Rutgers University have shown that carbonated soft drinks sweetened with HFCS contain exceptionally high levels of compounds called reactive carbonyls, which damage human tissue. People with diabetes have high levels of reactive carbonyls in their blood.

The research is rather clear: diets rich in high-fructose corn syrup increase your risk of several dangerous health problems. Though it's difficult to eliminate HFCS from your diet entirely, you'll be doing your health a favor if you try to cut back.

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