I went to a friend’s house the other day to do an inventory on food in her refrigerator, pantry, cupboards and storage shelves in the garage. We had a bet that I could find at least twenty percent of foods that contained corn syrup. Whether it be corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) corn syrup solids or maltodextrin (a sweetener made from corn).
Guess who won? I had a fabulous dinner, got a massage and had my car washed. I found almost forty percent of food with those additives. And the reason for the bet? Well, if you’ve been listening to my rantings over the past ten years you know that these products are bad for you. They make you fat!
The latest findings come from a Princeton University study just published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. The researchers from the department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute reported on two experiments investigating the link between the consumption of HFCS and obesity.
The first study compared lab rats that were fed the same amount of rat chow. However, one group was given water sweetened with HFCS and the other group was given water sweetened with table sugar. Guess who won? The group that was given sugar had a nice dinner, had their car washed…But seriously.
The group that was given the HFCS gained much more weight than their counterparts.
The second study monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. This study, apparently, was one of the first long term studies ever done on HFCS. The rats had increased weight gain. Almost as much as forty eight percent more than animals not on a diet of HFCS. The animals also showed signs of visceral fat around the abdomen and increased levels of triglycerides.
High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there at least two clear differences between them. First, sucrose is composed of equal amounts of the two simple sugars — it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose — but the typical high-fructose corn syrup used in this study features a slightly imbalanced ratio, containing 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Larger sugar molecules called higher saccharides make up the remaining 3 percent of the sweetener. Second, as a result of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the fructose molecules in the sweetener are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. In contrast, every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized. And because corn is a grain and not a vegetable, it is not digested the same way or at the same speed. When it enters the body, your digestive system thinks its sugar so you start secreting insulin, but it’s not a sugar so the brakes are put on and the corn syrup goes right into the fat cells. Bingo. Weight gain.
So the next time you see a commercial on TV with two women talking about HFCS and one says “corn syrup isn’t so bad. Everything in moderation, you know”, don’t believe her. She’s working for the bad guys. Thanks for listening and have a healthy day!!