Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup Really Bad For You?

Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup Really Bad For You?
Written by Jodi Graber

In one word, YES, high-fructose corn syrup is really bad for you.

One simple fact to remember is that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which comes from corn, is cheaper to produce than sugar, which is obtained from sugarcane and sugar beets. If you see HFCS on the label, it is most likely that the other items included are also low-quality artificial ingredients, depleted of nutrients and full of empty calories. Of course, that’s not to say that “regular” sugar isn’t bad for you. It is.

Why high-fructose corn syrup is bad for you

There is also science behind why high-fructose corn syrup is bad for you, despite claims to the contrary by the Corn Refiners Association: “Sucrose (table sugar) and HFCS are nutritionally equivalent and comprised of roughly 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. Fructose and glucose form a covalent bond in table sugar as opposed to HFCS. However, this difference is inconsequential.”1

Dr. Mark Hyman, a renowned functional medicine doctor and New York Times best-selling author, offers a different explanation of the components of high-fructose corn syrup. Ready for a short lesson in biochemistry? Dr. Hyman agrees that sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, bound tightly together. These elements are broken down by enzymes in your digestive tract and absorbed into the body.

Fructose is sweeter than glucose

HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, but in a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. Here’s the big problem: since there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream.

Fructose goes directly to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats such as triglycerides and cholesterol) and is the major cause of liver damage in the United States and causes a condition known as “fatty liver” which affects 70 million people!

The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin—the body’s major fat storage hormone. Because of this, HFCS leads to metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more.

Dr. Andrew Weil, also a highly-regarded integrative physician, concurs with Dr. Hyman. “I’m concerned that this highly processed substance [HFCS] has disruptive effects on metabolism, in part because the body doesn’t utilize fructose well, and humans have never before consumed it in such quantity.

Earlier studies have documented potential problems with thinking and memory, and HFCS has well-known adverse effects on other aspects of health. Clinical studies strongly suggest it promotes obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes; disturbs liver function, and elevates serum triglycerides in men.”3

Still wondering if high-fructose corn syrup is bad for you?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the 40 years since the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup as a cost-effective sweetener in the American diet, rates of obesity in the U.S. have skyrocketed. The CDC reported that around 1/3 of American adults are considered obese; in 1970, only 15 percent of the U.S. population met the definition for obesity.

Researchers from the Princeton University Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute conduct many experiments on the effects of sugar, HFCS and sweeteners.

Studies on rats to determine if there was a link between the excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and obesity did, in fact, prove that consumption of HFCS found in many beverages may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic. More research is being done to determine how fructose affects brain function in the control of appetite.

But really, do you need more evidence to convince you that high-fructose corn syrup is bad for you?

Take a few minutes to look at the food in your pantry. Look at the labels on the containers, boxes and cans. Do you see any high-fructose corn syrup? Perhaps consider buying a healthier alternative next time you are at the supermarket.


Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers  of Self-Acceptance,  Appreciation, and Personal  Achievement.  We ask that every contributor and expert answer    the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the  current article they have written.  In that way, and as a team, we hope to  encourage  and motivate  each other, thus inspiring  you to Get All A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally?  Additionally, what are you  still working on accepting? Now, we’re not talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.

I’ve accepted that I cannot control the thoughts or actions of others. I’m me and to the extent that I can control my thoughts and actions, I work hard to do that. I’m still working on accepting that I too often take things personally. Sometimes I just need to take a deep breath, let it go and move on.

2. Appreciation is everything. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally?  On the other hand  OR in contrast,  are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on  appreciating?

I’ve learned to appreciate that I am a night owl and can stay up really late. However, I also appreciate that I understand how important sleep is and that since the start of 2015 I’ve gone to bed earlier and feel better. I’m still working to appreciate that my husband stays up later to watch television. He needs that time to wind down. I don’t want to push my needs on him.

3. Share with us one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us  not only  what makes YOU most proud  but also  share the  goals and dreams that you still have.

I’m so proud of my business, Bravo! Wellness. I didn’t grow up in a family of entrepreneurs and never really dreamed of having my own company. It happened organically, as a result of my life experiences and passion to help others. Oh, I have so many goals and dreams.

I want to help so many more people. I want to show them that they don’t have to suffer with food anxiety, sugar addiction and low self-esteem as a result of trying to please others. Life can be so incredibly rewarding when you live your best life. My goal is to help an infinite number of people to live happy, healthy, fulfilled lives.

4.  Of course, we  all have imperfections,  or  so we think.  In truth,  we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways?  Likewise,  what imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

Well, I’m not a perfect eater. I inspire, educate and empower others to eat nourishing food and live a healthy lifestyle and I believe in the benefits 100%. But, if there’s a piece of cake in front of me, I will take a taste.

I can stop myself from eating the whole piece because I know I won’t feel well after, but I will have a couple of bites. Sometimes I feel guilty for eating food that I know isn’t healthy, but then I recognize that I’m human — and perfectly imperfect.

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to  appreciate and express  all the positive traits that make you…well…YOU!  In fact, sharing  what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (We assure you!)  Therefore,  Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I love my commitment. I am determined to make a difference in the world.


Photo by  nabil boukala  on  Unsplash

About the author

Jodi Graber

Jodi Krizer Graber, founder of Bravo! Wellness, inspires, educates and empowers busy, overwhelmed, stressed-to-the-max individuals to gain control of their well-being and take on the role of CEO…of their life. A lifetime of “struggling” to live up to other people’s expectations, of feeling “not good enough,” being pulled in too many directions and constant comparing to classmates and colleagues took its toll on Jodi’s physical and emotional well-being. Though she earned respect and success as an executive in the performing arts field, it came at a steep price: an eating disorder. In her quest to be perfect, she was destroying her life. Change was needed and it came in the form of Jodi learning to love herself and understanding how to nourish her body, mind and spirit with healthy food. In addition to supporting her clients, Jodi is happiest when in the Berkshires with her husband, watching hockey or Alabama Crimson Tide football and sipping tea. Connect with Jodi on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. • •

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