Drinking high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the main ingredient in most soft drinks throughout the world, increases your triglyceride levels and your LDL (bad) cholesterol. These effects only occurred in the study participants who drank fructose -- not glucose.
Consumption of beverages containing fructose rose 135 percent between 1977 and 2001. Food and beverage manufacturers began switching their sweeteners from sucrose (table sugar) to corn syrup in the 1970s when they discovered that HFCS was not only cheaper to make, it was also sweeter, a switch that has drastically altered the American diet.
In 1966, sucrose made up 86 percent of sweeteners. Today, 55 percent of sweeteners used are made from corn.
Medscape July 5, 2007 (Registration Required)
In case you forgot, or never knew in the first place, the number one source of calories in the US is high fructose corn syrup. Let me say that in different words so you more fully appreciate the impact of this fact. Remember that fat has 250% more calories than sugar, but even with this major disadvantage, the food that most people get MOST of their calories from is sugar from corn, primarily in the form of soft drinks.
Even though I have known this for years, it is still shocking to me every time I reflect on the enormity of this truth. But, like W. Clement Stone, I believe that there is a nugget of good in this horrible fact. The good is that stopping this pernicious habit is one of the easiest things to do. Since this is such a pervasive problem in the US, we could make radically outrageous improvements in our health as a culture if we just simply stopped everyone from drinking soda.
I am HIGHLY confident that the health improvement would be FAR more profound than if everyone stopped smoking because elevated insulin levels are the foundation of nearly every chronic disease known to man, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, aging, arthritis, osteoporosis, you name it, and you will find elevated insulin levels as a primary factor.
Part of what makes HFCS such an unhealthy product is that it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar, and, because most fructose is consumed in liquid form, its negative metabolic effects are significantly magnified.
HFCS has also been linked to:
The delusion that fructose is an acceptable form of sugar is quite prevalent in many nutritional circles. In fact, nearly all simple sugars are metabolized quickly and disrupt insulin levels, which contributes to most chronic illness. Eating small amounts of whole fruit will not provide tremendous amounts of fructose and should not be a problem for most people, unless diabetes or obesity is an issue but fruit juices, sodas and other beverages sweetened with fructose should be avoided.
To add insult to injury, the corn that the high fructose corn syrup is metabolized from nearly all comes from genetically modified corn which is fraught with its own well documented side effects and health concerns.
High fructose corn syrup is is not something that should be in your diet at all. But HFCS is the primary caloric sweetener in U.S. soft drinks. Researchers estimate that most Americans eat 132 calories of HFCS per day, while the top 20 percent of sweetener consumers eat over 300. And some, they say, eat as much as 700 calories per day of HFCS.Sodas, of course, are not the only source of HFCS (though they represent one of the main ones). This dangerous sweetener is also in many processed foods and fruit juices, so to avoid it you need to focus your diet on whole foods and, if you do purchase packaged foods, become an avid label reader.