A Few Things I Don't Like About High Fructose Corn Syrup

What’s one way you can “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle?” National Nutrition Month’s theme this year is multifaceted, but my top suggestion is to analyze ingredients in foods you purchase. The nutrition facts label doesn’t begin to describe what’s actually in the food. You MUST read the ingredients!!

It’s common knowledge sugar is bad for your health, so I always talk to my clients about reducing sugar across the board. To take it a step further, I recommend eliminating a specific sugar—HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. If I see it in the ingredients, I choose a similar product without it, and if that isn’t available, I don’t buy it.

What Foods Contain High Fructose Corn Syrup?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a cheap, popular sweetener, and it's really hard to pinpoint where it's found because it's in so many different foods! It's found in everything from soda, candy, and fruit juice to canned fruit, applesauce, and cereal bars. It’s also commonly found in salad dressing, ketchup, BBQ sauce, pasta sauce, bread, yogurt and cold cereal.

There are a few things I don’t like about high fructose corn syrup.

Genetically Modified (GMO) Corn

The big corporation, Monsanto, created genetically modified corn to withstand being sprayed with the herbicide, Roundup. This allows farmers to yield higher crop productions for use in our food supply system. One, of many, problems with this is the genetically-modified corn is it eventually needs to be sprayed with other, more powerful herbicides because pests have become resistant to Roundup, making it less effective. You can decide whether you want to eat heavily sprayed, genetically modified corn syrup.

Fructose and Appetite

Fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion or require insulin in order to be transported into cells, as do other carbohydrates. It would seem this is a good thing; however, insulin also controls the hormone leptin, which is crucial for appetite. Leptin tells your body to stop eating when it’s full by signaling the brain to stop sending hunger signals. Since fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin release, there’s no increase in leptin levels or feeling of satiety. What does this mean? People are more likely to remain feeling hungry after a meal with a lot of fructose. This is obviously detrimental to the ability to lose weight and also maintaining a healthy weight.

The Fate of Fructose in the Body

Fructose requires a different metabolic pathway than other carbohydrates because it basically skips glycolysis (normal carbohydrate metabolism). Because of this, fructose is an unregulated source of “acetyl CoA,” or the starting material for fatty acid synthesis. This, paired with unstimulated leptin levels, is like opening the flood gates of fat deposition.

What To Do?

In a lifestyle that has many of us eating too much and moving too little, we’re putting our health at risk if we don’t choose our foods carefully. Avoid HFCS by reading the ingredients on food labels and avoiding fast food. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the center aisles which are mostly stocked with highly processed foods. Also, look for sneaky label disguises for HFCS, such as fructose and corn syrup.

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods



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