Time to ditch the HFCS

I keep saying I’ll do it but I don’t stick to it. This is really frightening stuff:

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

In results published online Feb. 26 by 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 high-fructose corn syrup and obesity.

The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas.

The second experiment — the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals — monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet.

“These rats aren’t just getting fat; they’re demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides,” said Princeton graduate student Miriam Bocarsly. “In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes.” In addition to Hoebel and Bocarsly, the research team included Princeton undergraduate Elyse Powell and visiting research associate Nicole Avena, who was affiliated with Rockefeller University during the study and is now on the faculty at the University of Florida. The Princeton researchers note that they do not know yet why high-fructose corn syrup fed to rats in their study generated more triglycerides, and more body fat that resulted in obesity.

8 thoughts on “Time to ditch the HFCS

  1. I’ve been reading every label and, if it has HFCS, I find a version which doesn’t have HFCS. I get fooled every so often: I found an Aussie style black licorice and a local store had bags which looked like the one I buy, but it turned out to be their black cherry flavored “licorice” (no licorice in the ingredients) and it’s second ingredient was HFCS. Made in Australia. I’d eaten about 3 pieces, thinking the formula had been changed and it was sickly sweet — but no, wrong product. I threw it away.

    And I am a Kraft Miracle Whip fan (it’s the sweet-sour Scandinavian influence out in the Upper Midwest), and it has HFCS in the light fat version. The far free doesn’t have it. So, now, I put up with the slightly different taste of the fat free.

    I ask deli clerks to check the ingredient labels of their unlabeled deli salads (I try to do so when it’s not real busy), and at ShopRite they use only Hellman’s and there’s no HFCS. But lots of stores buy huge containers of potato salad, etc., and don’t make their own. So I try to avoid buying and check if I do.

    I had a hankering for fig newtons — and found HFCS near the top of ingredients. I checked a bag of marshmallows: HFCS. But I did find some foreign made marshmallows using only sugar.

    But, wow, it’s everywhere. And it’s not easy reading long ingredient lists in tiny type.

  2. The substitution of high fructose corn syrup is a consequence of our Cuba blockade.Domestic sugar prices are high while world sugar prices, using Cuban sugar, are much lower.

    Another interstice in the Foucauldian matrix.

    If you are using Splenda instead, consider buying some extra. It really gets rid of ants. You put it out, they love love love it and take it home to their queen (s). Soon those hoardes of ants in your kitchen disappear. Now the problem is do you really want to eat it yourself?

    Honestly, it works.

  3. I don’t use sugar in my tea or coffee, but, I buy stevia for everyone else to use. They seem to like it.

    As far as soda, we don’t really buy that much (I’ll drink about 4 a year) but, when I do I buy the soda with the cane sugar. Cokes from Mexico are big down here (In the home of Coca Cola.)

    The choices for food stuff without HFCS are expanding. 2 of our favorite local BBQ sauces have versions without HFCS.

    It just seems everything is laced with HFCS or salt….

  4. I was getting ready to email that link to a couple of friends who struggle with their weight. Now, I’m thinking maybe I won’t because it’s a little bit like calling them fat.

  5. jawbone, it’s pretty safe to say that pretty much any mass produced product and the supermarket and deli have hfcs. an easy way to not have to read labels is to shop at trader joe’s if you have one. nothing they sell contains hfcs or hydrogenated oils. also no gmo’s in anything with the tj brand. and remember if it doesn’t say “cane sugar” on the label, it’s gmo beet sugar.

  6. The agribusiness lobby won’t let us regulate (much less ban) this highly dangerous substance.

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