Quantcast
Food

Scientists Find High Fructose Corn Syrup Is as Bad For You as You Might Think

Sugar seems to be in every food we buy at the grocery, especially packaged, processed foods. Whether it's sugary beverages (including some of those supposedly good-for-you sports beverages), those boxed breakfast cereals with cartoon and animated movie characters to attract kids or even in ketchup and canned vegetables, it's hard to avoid.

The snack food aisle is only one of many places you're likely to encounter high fructose corn syrup in the grocery store.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Even harder to avoid is table sugar's evil cousin, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It's got such a bad reputation that a couple of years ago the Corn Refiners Association petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be allowed to change its name to "corn sugar," claiming that its long name is what gives consumers a bad impression of it. They were turned down—rightfully—because "sugar" is a solid and "syrup" is a liquid and HFCS is a liquid additive.

And it is in everything. A recent trip to the grocery store revealed that of 15 product labels checked on foods next to the checkout line (where the least nutritious snack foods tend to be pushed), 13 had HFCS. (One that did not, surprisingly, was Kit Kat bars). Why did it become so ubiquitous? If you guessed "because it's cheap," you win! With corn widely grown in the U.S. on an industrial scale, it became more economical to use HFCS to sweeten mass-marketed foods such as snack foods, fast foods and sodas.

Added sugar of any kind isn't something you want to find a lot of in any food you buy. Americans eat far more sugar than is good for them. And while virtually all corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, making HFCS sure to be a GMO product, table sugar aka sucrose or cane sugar is extracted from beets, another major GMO crop.

But there are reasons why consuming too much HFCS could be even worse than eating too much table sugar. A recent study by University of Utah researchers and scheduled to be published in the March issue of The Journal of Nutrition found that the sugars found in HFCS were more toxic to mice than sucrose. When they fed mice a human-sized dose of either sugar, they observed hat the HFCS-type sugar reduced both the reproductive capacity and lifespan of female mice. Female mice fed fructose-glucose died at 1.87 times the rate of females on the sucrose diet. They produced 26.4 percent fewer offspring.

And while the researchers found no difference in male mice based on the type of sugar they were given, they said it could be that both sugars were equally toxic to the male mice.

"When the diabetes-obesity-metabolic syndrome epidemics started in the mid-’70s, they corresponded with both a general increase in consumption of added sugar and the switchover from sucrose being the main added sugar in the American diet to high-fructose corn syrup making up half our sugar intake," said UU professor Wayne Potts, senior author of the study. “This is the most robust study showing there is a difference between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar at human-relevant doses.”

So what should you do? One of the other study authors, James Ruff, has an answer.

“Our previous work and plenty of other studies have shown that added sugar in general is bad for your health," he said. "So first, reduce added sugar across the board. Then worry about the type of sugar, and decrease consumption of products with high-fructose corn syrup.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

An Eye-Opening Look at Added Sugar in Kids’ Cereals

Add Sugar, Subtract Science: How the Food Industry Influences Policymaking

9 Ways Processed Foods Are Slowly Killing People

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate) is a beloved holiday favorite. PETA

8 Festive Vegan Drinks to Keep You Cozy This Winter

By Zachary Toliver

Looking for warm vegan holiday drinks to help you deal with the short days and cold weather? This time of year, we could all use a steamy cup of cheer during the holiday chaos. Have a festive, cozy winter with these delicious options. (Note that you must be 21 to enjoy some of the recipes.)

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Pexels

For a Happier, Healthier World, Live Modestly

By Marlene Cimons

Gibran Vita makes every effort to get rid of the dispensable. He lives in a small home and wears extra layers indoors to cut his heating bills. He eats and drinks in moderation. He spends his leisure time in "contemplation," volunteering or working on art projects. "I like to think more like a gatherer, that is, 'what do I have?' instead of 'what do I want?'" he said.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
An underwater marker in front of Cortada's studio helps predict how many feet of water needs to rise before the area becomes submerged. Xavier Cortada

As Miami Battles Sea-Level Rise, This Artist Makes Waves With His 'Underwater Homeowners Association'

By Patrick Rogers

Miami artist Xavier Cortada lives in a house that stands at six feet above sea level. The Episcopal church down the road is 11 feet above the waterline, and the home of his neighbor, a dentist, has an elevation of 13 feet. If what climate scientists predict about rising sea levels comes true, the Atlantic Ocean could rise two to three feet by the time Cortada pays off his 30-year mortgage. As the polar ice caps melt, the sea is inching ever closer to the land he hopes one day to pass on to the next generation, in the city he has called home since the age of three.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
GMVozd / E+ / Getty Images

How to Ferment Vegetables in Three Easy Steps

By Brian Barth

A mason jar packed with cultured or fermented vegetables at your local urban provisions shop will likely set you back $10 to $15. Given that the time and materials involved are no more than five minutes and $2, respectively, one imagines that the makers of cultured vegetables have spent eight years training with fermentation masters in some stone-age village, or that they've mortgaged their house to pay for high-end fermenting equipment to ensure that the dilly beans come out tasting properly pickled.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Orangutan in Sumatra. Tbachner / Wikimedia Commons

Norway to Ban Deforestation-Linked Palm Oil Biofuels in Historic Vote

The Norwegian parliament voted this week to make Norway the world's first country to bar its biofuel industry from importing deforestation-linked palm oil starting in 2020, The Independent reported.

Environmentalists celebrated the move as a victory for rainforests, the climate and endangered species such as orangutans that have lost their habitats due to palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia. It also sets a major precedent for other nations.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Steve Parish/ Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Scientists Discover 'Most Diverse Coral Site' on Great Barrier Reef

Australian scientists have found the "most diverse coral site" on the Great Barrier Reef, observing at least 195 different species of corals in space no longer than 500 meters, The Guardian reported.

The non-profit organization Great Barrier Reef Legacy and marine scientist Charlie Veron, a world expert on coral reefs, confirmed the diversity of the site, also known as the "Legacy Super Site" on the outer reef.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
Buses head out at the Denver Public Schools Hilltop Terminal Nov. 10, 2017. Andy Cross / The Denver Post via Getty Images

Why Aren't School Buses Electric? These Coloradans Are Sick of Diesel

By Corey Binns

Before her two kids returned to school at the end of last summer, Lorena Osorio stood before the Westminster, Colorado, school board and gave heartfelt testimony about raising her asthmatic son, now a student at the local high school. "My son was only three years old when he first suffered from asthma," she said. Like most kids, he rode a diesel school bus. Some afternoons he arrived home struggling to breathe.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
jessicahyde / iStock / Getty Images

Hemp May Soon Be Federally Legal, But Many Will Be Barred From Growing It

By Dan Nosowitz

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has, perhaps unexpectedly to those who find themselves agreeing with only this one position of his, been a major force for legalizing industrial hemp. Industrial hemp differs from marijuana in that it's bred specifically to have extremely low concentrations of THC, the primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana; smoke industrial hemp all you want, it'll just give you sore lungs.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!