Dramatic Example of How the Food Industry Lies to You About Corn

obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, food industry, lies, corn, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, HFCS, fructose, glucose, sugar, soda, juice, caloriesSweetSurprise.com offers a number of surprising facts about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). For example, the site tells you that, “Research confirms that high fructose corn syrup is safe and no different from other common sweeteners like table sugar and honey. All three sweeteners are nutritionally the same.”

They also claim that “Though the individual sugars are metabolized by different pathways, this is of little consequence since the body sees the same mix of sugars from caloric (nutritive) sweeteners, regardless of source.

Of course, SweetSurprise.com is a site run by the Corn Refiners Association ... so I suspect there’s a chance they may be biased.

There are two types of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS): HFCS-55 and HFCS-42. HFCS-55 is composed of 55 percent fructose, 42 percent glucose and 3 percent higher sugars, and tastes as sweet as table sugar, while HFCS-42 is somewhat less sweet.

When HFCS-55 was developed, it was specifically formulated to provide sweetness equivalent to table sugar so that consumers would not perceive a difference in product sweetness and taste.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that the consumption of high fructose corn syrup was just over 40 pounds per year, per person, as of 2007. It accounts for roughly 41 percent of all caloric sweeteners consumed in the U.S.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

SweetSurprise.com is run by The Corn Refiners Association, which recently launched a major advertising and public relations campaign to the tune of $20-30 million, designed to rehabilitate the reputation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  You might have even seen a few of their commercials on TV recently.

This site is nothing but an extension of their deceptive advertising that claims the product is no worse for you than sugar. One of their ads, which shows two women talking, reads:

“My hairdresser says that sugar is healthier than high fructose corn syrup.”

“Wow! You get your hair done by a doctor?”

Not surprisingly, the Corn Refiners Association is running these ads in response to the increasing public perception of the dangers of HFCS. But this “perception” was not instigated by chatty hairdressers with nothing to do but spread their own personal opinions to a captive audience. No. Scientists have linked HFCS to the rampant epidemics of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in the U.S., and medical researchers have pinpointed various other health dangers associated with the consumption of HFCS compared to regular sugar (which I’ll review below).

The Corn Refiners Association has been trying to counter the seriously bad PR generated by damaging research findings since 2004, but finally realized it could no longer afford to rely on simple grass-roots marketing tactics such as sweet talking nutritionists and doctors.

THAT’S a sign that truthful grass-roots consumer information, such as the information found in this newsletter, is spreading and reaching a much wider audience! Now we just have to maintain the counter-pressure to ensure that people are not deceived AGAIN.

Hopefully we can get the word out about what these ads are really about: money.

Declining Consumption Has Turned Industry Sour… and Desperate

Since the 1970s, the consumption of HFCS in the United States has skyrocketed. Consumption of beverages containing fructose alone rose 135 percent between 1977 and 2001. That is until about 2003.

According to the Corn Refiners Association statistics, the per capita consumption in the United States actually went down from more than 45 pounds per year in 1999 to just over 42 pounds annually 2005. The USDA estimates per capita consumption at about 40 pounds per year as of 2007.

That’s a really good sign for the health of the community, but a bad one for the financial health of the companies that sell HFCS. Hence the multi-million dollar media campaign. In June a nearly $5 billion merger of Corn Products International and Bunge Ltd. signaled that corn manufacturers mean business. Revenues are expected to increase 29 percent in 2008 to reach $4 billion.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is the Number One Source of Calories in U.S. Diet

Although the trend is declining, an average intake of 40 pounds of HFCS per person, per year, is still far too much, if you want to obtain or maintain optimal health that is.

In case you forgot, or never knew in the first place, the number one source of calories in the U.S. is high fructose corn syrup.  Let me restate that so you can more fully appreciate the impact of this fact.  Dietary fat has 250 percent more calories than sugar, but even with this major disadvantage, the food that most people get MOST of their calories from is HFCS, primarily in the form of soft drinks.

The good news about this shocking fact is that stopping the pernicious habit of drinking sodas is one of the easiest things you can do. You can radically improve your health just by cutting out soda. 

I am HIGHLY confident that the health improvement would be FAR more profound than if you quit smoking, because elevated insulin levels are the foundation of nearly every chronic disease, including:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Premature aging
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis

And that’s just naming a few.

But in addition to being an exorbitant source of excess calories for the average American, there are a number of other things SweetSurprise.com fails to tell you the truth about, as it relates to high fructose corn syrup.

High Fructose Corn Syrup Does NOT Metabolize in the Same Way as Sugar

HFCS is a highly processed product that contains similar amounts of unbound fructose and glucose. Sucrose, on the other hand, is a larger sugar molecule that is metabolized into glucose and fructose in your intestine.

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.

Whereas the glucose in other sugars is used by your body, and is converted to blood glucose, fructose is a relatively unregulated source of fuel that your liver converts to fat and cholesterol.

There are over 35 years of hard empirical evidence that refined man-made fructose like high fructose corn syrup metabolizes to triglycerides and adipose tissue, not blood glucose. The downside of this is that fructose does not stimulate your insulin secretion, nor enhance leptin production. (Leptin is a hormone thought to be involved in appetite regulation.)

Because insulin and leptin act as key signals in regulating how much food you eat, as well as your body weight, this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased food intake and weight gain.

Additionally, fructose is also known to significantly raise your triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol).

Triglycerides, the chemical form of fat found in foods and in your body, are not something you want in excess amounts. Intense research over the past 40 years has confirmed that elevated blood levels of triglycerides, known as hypertriglyceridemia, puts you at an increased risk of heart disease.

New Evidence That HFCS Contributes to Development of Diabetes

Recent research, reported at the 2007 national meeting of the American Chemical Society, found new evidence that soft drinks sweetened with HFCS may contribute to the development of diabetes because it contains high levels of reactive compounds that have been shown by others to trigger cell and tissue damage that cause diabetes.

Chemical tests among 11 different carbonated soft drinks containing HFCS were found to have ‘astonishingly high’ levels of reactive carbonyls. Reactive carbonyls are undesirable and highly-reactive compounds associated with “unbound” fructose and glucose molecules, and are believed to cause tissue damage.

By contrast, reactive carbonyls are not present in table sugar because its fructose and glucose components are “bound” and chemically stable.

Reactive carbonyls are elevated in the blood of individuals with diabetes and are linked to the health complications of diabetes. Based on the study data, the researchers estimate that a single can of soda contains about five times the concentration of reactive carbonyls than the concentration found in the blood of an adult person with diabetes.

Fructose Depletes Your Body of Enzymes, Vitamins or Minerals

Fructose also does not contain any enzymes, vitamins or minerals so it takes these micronutrients from your body while it assimilates itself for use.

Unbound fructose, found in large quantities in HFCS, can interfere with your heart's use of minerals such as magnesium, copper and chromium.

This does not mean you should avoid whole fruit, however, as it contains natural fructose together with the enzymes, vitamins and minerals needed for your body to assimilate the fructose. Eating small amounts of whole fruit also does not provide a tremendous amount of fructose, and is not likely to be a problem for most people unless diabetes or obesity is an issue.

Did You Know? -- Most HFCS is Made From Genetically Modified Corn

Adding insult to injury, HFCS is almost always made from genetically modified corn, which is fraught with its own well documented side effects and health concerns.

GMO corn will radically increase your risk of developing corn food allergies. The problem with corn allergies are that once you have a corn allergy from GMO corn you will have an allergy to even healthy organic corn products.

The Bottom Line

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.

But if you want to drastically improve your health, the answer is plain and simple. To lose weight and reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease, STOP drinking soda and processed fruit juices that are sweetened with about eight teaspoons of fructose per serving!

Switch to pure water as your beverage of choice and you will be well on your way to better health.

However, like most areas in life, when presented with two poisons, choose carefully.

Even though HFCS is clearly something you want to avoid, it is not as bad as artificial sweeteners, which damage your health even more rapidly than HFCS. (I spent several years researching artificial sweeteners for my book Sweet Deception, which goes into these issues in great detail).

So ideally, you’ll want to avoid ALL sodas, but if you have to choose between soda sweetened with HFCS (regular soda) or artificial sweeteners (diet soda), choose HFCS.

The best and safest sweetener (although illegal to use according to the FDA) would be the herb stevia. For a great recipe for homemade Italian Cream Soda using stevia, see this video and article by Luci Lock.

+ Sources and References