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6 Reasons Why High-Fructose Corn Syrup Is Bad for You

Health + Wellness
6 Reasons Why High-Fructose Corn Syrup Is Bad for You



Scott Olson / Getty Images News / Getty Images

By Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an artificial sugar made from corn syrup.


Many experts believe that added sugar and HFCS are key factors in today's obesity epidemic (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).

HFCS and added sugar are also linked to many other serious health issues, including diabetes and heart disease (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).

Here are 6 reasons why consuming large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup is bad for your health.

1. Adds an Unnatural Amount of Fructose to Your Diet

The fructose in HFCS can cause health issues if eaten in excessive amounts.

Most starchy carbs, such as rice, are broken down into glucose⁠ — the basic form of carbs. However, table sugar and HFCS comprise around 50% glucose and 50% fructose (5).

Glucose is easily transported and utilized by every cell in your body. It's also the predominant fuel source for high-intensity exercise and various processes.

In contrast, the fructose from high fructose corn syrup or table sugar needs to be converted into glucose, glycogen (stored carbs), or fat by the liver before it can be used as fuel.

Like regular table sugar, HFCS is a rich source of fructose. In the past few decades, the intake of fructose and HFCS has increased significantly.

Before table sugar and HFCS became affordable and widely available, people's diets contained only small amounts of fructose from natural sources, such as fruits and vegetables (6Trusted Source).

The adverse effects listed below are mostly caused by excess fructose, although they apply to both high-fructose corn syrup (55% fructose) and plain table sugar (50% fructose).

Summary

HFCS and sugar contain fructose and glucose. Your body metabolizes fructose differently than glucose, and consuming too much fructose can lead to health problems.

2. Increases Your Risk of Fatty Liver Disease

High intake of fructose leads to increased liver fat.

One study in men and women with excess weight showed that drinking sucrose-sweetened soda for 6 months significantly increased liver fat, compared to drinking milk, diet soda, or water (10Trusted Source).

Other research has also found that fructose can increase liver fat to a greater extent than equal amounts of glucose (11Trusted Source).

In the long term, liver fat accumulation can lead to serious health problems, such as fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

It's important to note that the detrimental effects of fructose in added sugar, including HFCS, should not be equated with the fructose in fruit. It's difficult to consume excessive amounts of fructose from whole fruits, which are healthy and safe in sensible amounts.

Summary

High-fructose corn syrup can contribute to increased liver fat. This is because of its high fructose content, which is metabolized differently than other carbs.

3. Increases Your Risk of Obesity and Weight Gain

Long-term studies indicate that excessive intake of sugar, including HFCS, plays a key role in the development of obesity (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

One study had healthy adults drink beverages containing either glucose or fructose.

When comparing the two groups, the fructose drink did not stimulate regions of the brain that control appetite to the same extent as the glucose drink (14Trusted Source).

Fructose also promotes visceral fat accumulation. Visceral fat surrounds your organs and is the most harmful type of body fat. It's linked to health issues like diabetes and heart disease (8Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

Moreover, the availability of HFCS and sugar has also increased average daily calorie intake, a key factor in weight gain. Research suggests people now consume over 500 calories per day from sugar, on average, which may be 300% more than 50 years ago (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18).

Summary

Research continues to highlight the role of high-fructose corn syrup and fructose in obesity. It can also add visceral fat, a harmful type of fat that surrounds your organs.

4. Excessive Intake is Linked to Diabetes

Excessive fructose or HFCS consumption can also lead to insulin resistance, a condition that can result in type 2 diabetes (11Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).

In healthy people, insulin increases in response to the consumption of carbs, transporting them out of the bloodstream and into cells.

However, regularly consuming excess fructose can make your body resistant to insulin's effects (19Trusted Source).

This decreases your body's ability to control blood sugar levels. Over the long term, both insulin and blood sugar levels increase.

In addition to diabetes, HFCS may play a role in metabolic syndrome, which has been linked to many diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers (20Trusted Source).

Summary

Excessive intake of high-fructose corn syrup can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which are both key contributors to type 2 diabetes and many other serious diseases.

5. Can Increase the Risk of Other Serious Diseases

Many serious diseases have been linked to the overconsumption of fructose.

HFCS and sugar have been shown to drive inflammation, which is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

In addition to inflammation, excess fructose may increase harmful substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which may harm your cells (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).

Lastly, it may exacerbate inflammatory diseases like gout. This is due to increased inflammation and uric acid production (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).

Considering all of the health issues and diseases linked to the excessive intake of HFCS and sugar, it may come as no surprise that studies are starting to link them to an increased risk of heart disease and reduced life expectancy (3Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).

Summary

Excessive HFCS intake is linked to an increased risk of numerous diseases, including heart disease.

6. Contains No Essential Nutrients

Like other added sugars, high fructose corn syrup is "empty" calories.

While it contains plenty of calories, it offers no essential nutrients.

Thus, eating HFCS will decrease the total nutrient content of your diet, as the more HFCS you consume, the less room you have for nutrient-dense foods.

The Bottom Line

Over the past few decades, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become affordable and widely available.

Experts now attribute its excessive intake to many serious health issues, including obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome, among others.

Avoiding high-fructose corn syrup — and added sugar in general — may be one of the most effective ways to improve your health and lower your risk of disease.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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