As a consumer, you’ll find high fructose corn syrup in most packaged items at your grocery store, from typical sweet items such as cookies, donuts, brownies and soft drinks to more surprising items like sauces such as tomato sauce, canned beans and even bread. However, evidence suggests that this popular sweetener once thought to be harmless, may have adverse health effects.
High fructose corn syrup has not always been the most popular sweetener in America. In 1966, for example, the majority of sugary products consumed were sweetened with sucrose a sugar that breaks down into fructose and glucose in the body.
But sugars made from corn became more widely used when companies discovered they were cheaper to process, sweeter than sucrose so less had to be used, and dissolved easily in drinks. In 2001, the average consumption of high fructose corn syrup was 62 pounds.
However, this sweetener has some troubling effects on the body. Unlike glucose, it is not readily emptied into the cells for energy, and it does not stimulate the production of leptin, which is responsible for us feeling full. That would suggest that you could eat as much food sweetened with high fructose corn syrup as you wanted, and you would not necessarily feel satiated. It also interacts with the liver in a way that increases triglycerides, which is a precursor to heart disease.
When you shop, make sure to always read the labels, even if the item isn’t sweet. Look for foods sweetened with cane sugar or cane juice, but remember to keep your overall level of sugars to a minimum.