Friday, August 1, 2008

Should I Avoid High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

     Are you one of those people that avoids high-fructose corn syrup? I always have. HFCS is found in everything from obviously sweet, processed junk food like Twinkies and soda to even ketchup and bread. Horror stories abound, linking it to cancer and obesity. Supposedly, its rise in popularity correlated with America's rapid rise in obesity rates.
     But the latest research does not link it to weight gain any more than regular table sugar (sucrose). Although more research is needed, because "there is a new body of research that suggested HFCS might be linked with higher triglyceride levels and other health effects," says Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina.
     In the mean time, it's important to note that the study only found HFCS was not more likely to cause obesity than glucose.  This is worth noting because HFCS normally replaces sugars like glucose in foods. In other words, foods that we should be avoiding anyways. It's not that we should be specifically shunning HFCS. We should be shunning foods with refined sugars in general. 
     So, I've decided to treat high-fructose corn syrup like I treat refined sugar. I try to avoid it, but I'm not going to stress myself out. I try to choose complex carbohydrates, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, which regulate blood sugar. If you choose to do the same, read food labels and remember the general rule that simple sugars end in "ose," (glucose, maltose...)

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