Why High Fructose Corn Syrup is Health Enemy #1

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition, Nutrients and Additives
Last Reviewed 02/24/2014

The other day, I was talking to a friend who while sipping a regular soda loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) said he knew the stuff was bad, but he didn’t know exactly why.


Many people are in that same boat. They hear the bad press about HFCS, but they don’t know exactly what’s so evil about it. Once I told my friend, he threw the rest of his soda away—which was a good move. But I thought this was such important information that I wanted to get the word out to you as well.


Why Is High Fructose Corn Syrup So Unhealthy? 

  • HFCS is processed differently in the body than other sugars. It is metabolized in the liver. Experimental animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrhosis, similar to problems that develop in the livers of alcoholics.

  • In the liver, HFCS is converted into triglycerides, fats that circulate through the blood. Elevated triglycerides are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, when triglycerides rise, the level of HDL “good” cholesterol goes down. That’s bad news for heart health.

  • Leading researchers, including Peter Havel at the University of California Davis Nutrition Department, say that long-term consumption of food and beverages high in fructose content, including both table sugar and HFCS, generates a chain of hormonal reactions that contribute to weight gain and obesity, as well as arterial disease. Weight gain and obesity are the key risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

  • In animal studies reported just this year, a high fructose intake was found to raise the level of uric acid, which in turn inhibits nitric oxide (NO), a key chemical that helps keep arteries dilated.

  • HFCS interferes with the metabolism of two key minerals, magnesium and copper. Magnesium keeps heart cells energized and contributes to healthy bone density. Copper is essential for formation of collagen and elastin, two structural proteins that make up much of the body’s connective tissue.

  • HFCS promotes toxic substances in the blood called advanced glycation end products, which are believed to play a role in the aging process.

What does this mean for you? Avoid HFCS like the plague. If it’s on a food product label, stay away from it. Instead of HFCS loaded sodas, opt for water, freshly squeezed organic juices, spritzers from juices and mineral water, and herbal teas. If you must have something to sweeten your cereal, coffee, or tea choose ribose or Stevia instead, or add a quarter teaspoon of honey.


Now it’s your turn: Have you found a healthy alternative to HFCS?

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