If you tasted a soda made with sugar, then tried a soda made with high fructose corn syrup, you might not be able to tell the difference.
But if someone put a bowl of sugar beside a bowl of HFCS, you would immediately know which was which.
No problem. One is solid (dried and crystallized). One is liquid. Easy.
But that difference is more significant than you might imagine. Because the difference in their impact on our health is huge.
Worse than sugar
The Corn Refiners Association wants to give HFCS a makeover. Who can blame them? “HFCS” has become shorthand for “worse than sugar.” And that’s pretty bad.
But you may have heard that the FDA recently shot down CRA’s request to allow food products to list HFCS as “corn sugar.” The reason is simple. Sugar is a solid. HFCS is liquid.
And that difference is NOT a simple technicality.
Sugar is metabolized throughout your body. But when you consume fructose in liquid form, your liver alone metabolizes 100% of it. So if someone drinks a couple of HFCS-sweetened sodas every day, that puts a major stress on the liver.
Over time, that stress takes a toll. It’s called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). And it’s one of those diseases that’s known as a “silent killer.” Millions have it. They’re headed for disaster. And they don’t even know.
The problem is that steady HFCS intake increases triglyceride fats. In NAFLD, triglycerides accumulate in the livers of people who drink little or no alcohol. But the inflammation, scarring, and destruction of liver cells are basically the same things that happen in people who drink alcohol to excess.
Last year I told you about a study that included 400 subjects with NAFLD. Researchers found that more than 80% of the subjects drank HFCS-sweetened beverages. Nearly 30% said they did so every day.
And liver scarring was most pronounced in those with the highest HFCS intake.
Eventually, NAFLD can escalate into dangerous chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, and heart disease.
So call it whatever you want. HFCS…corn sugar… lucky healthy lottery win sweetener… It doesn’t matter. It’s all the same thing — one of the most dangerous substances you can put in your body day after day.
“FDA Rejects New Name for High Fructose Corn Syrup” Candice Choi, Associated Press, 5/31/12, abcnews.go.com
“Added fructose ups lipids, even within USDA recommended limits” Steven Fox, Medscape Medical News, 7/30/11, medscape.com
“High Fructose Corn Syrup Linked to Liver Scarring” Randy Dotinga, HealthDay News, 3/19/10, healthday.com