High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a corn-based sweetener that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert glucose into fructose.

It’s time to put the last nail into the fructose coffin. I’ve been saying for many years that fructose is not a health food, not a sensible sweetener and should be avoided. And that’s not just the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in soft drinks. Anyone drinking soft drinks in the 21st century really isn’t paying attention anyway. Nor are people consuming any of the highly processed foods loaded with HFCS.

These pseudo-foods are easy to avoid. But what about all the health foods sweetened with fructose? Many protein shakes and “energy” drinks are sweetened with fructose, when we now know that fructose accelerates aging, promotes obesity, and impairs the barrier mechanism of the intestine. This last point is fairly serious, considering that some so-called “detox” powders are sweetened with fructose. Ironic, since increasing gut permeability would cause more toxins to be absorbed into the blood stream.[1]

And for more sad irony, there are literally scores of weight-loss powders, shakes and products sweetened with fructose. Now comes a study just published in the Journal of Nutrition showing that fructose consumption is strongly associated with cardiometabolic risk factors (elevated blood sugar, blood pressure, inflammation) and visceral adiposity (belly fat) in adolescents.[2]

What about nutrition product websites that list fructose as “low glycemic”, meaning that it does not raise insulin levels? While this is technically true, fructose promotes weight gain more than many high glycemic foods. This occurs in the liver, where fructose stimulates LIPOGENESIS (the synthesis of fat from carbohydrate).

This is not my opinion. The Pollock/ Journal of Nutrition study confirms a raft of previous studies documenting the obesity-promoting, age-accelerating effects of fructose.

“There is much evidence from both animal models and human studies supporting the notion that fructose is a highly lipogenic nutrient that when consumed in high quantiies contributes to tissue insulin insensitivity, metabolic defects, and the development of a prediabetic state.”[3]

“The combined effects of lowered circulating leptin and insulin in individuals who consume diets that are high in dietary fructose could therefore increase the likelihood of weight gain and its associated metabolic sequelae. In addition, fructose, compared with glucose, is preferentially metabolized to lipid in the liver. Fructose consumption induces insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriacylglycerolemia, and hypertension in animal models.”[4]

What’s more, fructose accelerates aging in well-defined ways.  

A. Current data suggests that while it may not raise serum glucose as rapidly as sucrose, fructose promotes glycation (cross-linking) at nearly seven times the rate of glucose.    [5]

B. Controlled studies have documented that fructose contributes to an increase in serum cholesterol and LDL in people with normal blood sugar, and even more so in those with poor glucose tolerance.   [6]

C. Compared to sucrose, administration of fructose disrupted mineral metabolism and led to depletion of iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc. [7]

Want more reasons to avoid fructose?

* It has been shown to promote insulin resistance and diabetes at the DNA level.[8]

* Fructose appears to increase risk to hypertension and kidney disease.[9]

* And has been shown to increase risk for kidney stones[10]

Can we finally put this issue to rest?

[1] REF: Spruss A, Bergheim I. Dietary fructose and intestinal barrier: potential risk factor in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. J Nutr Biochem 2009; 20:657-662.

[2] REF: Pollock NK, Bundy V, Kanto W, Davis CL, Bernard PJ, Zhu H, Gutin B, Dong Y. Greater fructose consumption is associated with cardiometabolic risk markers and visceral adiposity in adolescents.J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):251-7. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

[3] From: Miller A, Adeli K. Diet, fructose and the metabolic syndrome. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology 2008; 24:204-209.

[4] FROM: Elliott SS, Keim NL, Stern JS, Teff K, Havel PJ.Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):911-22.

[5] REF: Dills WL. Protein fructosylation: Fructose and the Maillard reaction. Am J Clin Nutr 1993;  58(suppl):779S-787S.

[6] REFS: Hollenbeck CB. Dietary fructose effects on lipoprotein metabolism and risk for coronary artery disease. Am J Clin Nutr 1993; 58(suppl):800S-807S.Hallfrisch J, et al. The effects of fructose on blood lipid levels. Am J Clin Nutr 1983; 37(3):740748.

[7] REF: Ivaturi R, Kies C. Mineral balances in humans as affected by fructose, high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 1992; 42(2): 143-151.

[8] REFERENCE: Lê KA, Faeh D, Stettler R, Debard C, Loizon E, Vidal H, Boesch C, Ravussin E, Tappy L. Effects of four-week high-fructose diet on gene expression in skeletal muscle of healthy men. Diabetes Metab. 2008 Feb;34(1):82-5. Epub 2007 Dec 11.

[9] REFERENCE: Johnson RJ, Segal MS, Sautin Y, Nakagawa T, Feig DI, Kang DH, Gersch MS, Benner S, Sánchez-Lozada LG. Potential role of fructose in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):899-906.

[10]  REFERENCE: Taylor EN, Curhan GC. Fructose consumption and the risk of kidney stones. Kidney Int. 2008 Jan;73(2):207-12. Epub 2007 Oct 10.



Leave a Reply