The Skinny on High Fructose Corn Syrup

By Paleo
In Paleo Tips
Jan 26th, 2012

High fructose corn syrup, also called corn sugar, is a highly controversial phrase these days, but you may not understand what it is, thus you may be eating it in foods you wouldn’t even suspect.

Following a paleo diet is a great way to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from your daily life, but it’s still a good idea to know what you’re up against when it comes to the sweetener that is found in so many popular, processed foods. It can be especially confusing to dieters, because high fructose corn syrup is included in so many “low-fat,” “low-calorie,” and “healthy” foods, including low-calorie salad dressings, low-fat ice cream and low-calorie yogurts.

High fructose corn syrup has become common in so many foods for several reasons. It is generally sweeter than table sugar, or sucrose, so it makes foods more palatable. The sugar replacement is also cheaper to produce, particularly in the United States, than table sugar. A third reason for HFCS’s popularity lies in the fact that it is easier to produce and transport because it comes in a liquid form.

High fructose corn syrup is often included in breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, baked dessert foods, packaged snack foods, salad dressings and condiments. You may be consuming a great deal of high fructose corn syrup without even being aware, but following the paleo diet is a great way to eliminate the unhealthy sweetener from your diet, through the elimination of all processed foods.

Often, we are advised to eat a low-fat diet to be healthy, but in fact, most foods that are touted as being low-fat contain high fructose corn syrup, which is known to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. High fructose corn syrup is processed by our liver, and during the process 30% more of the fructose ends up as fat, versus traditional sugar. Fructose has also been shown to suppress the stomach hunger hormone, which means you feel hungrier than you would normally, therefore you’ll eat more and more to feel satisfied.

Fructose has a structure that differs from that of natural sugar, and our bodies are genetically unable to metabolize HFCS properly. Often, besides being found in foods that are advertised as “diet” foods, fructose is also found in huge amounts in fruit juices and sports drinks, even those that are low calorie.

Many people question how fructose consumption could have such a negative impact on our health if it’s a substance found naturally in fruit, but the answer lies in the fact that fruit also includes fiber and other nutrients, which balance the fructose effects. The fiber and nutrients naturally found in fruit help the body digest and metabolize the fructose being consumed.

One of the core principles behind the paleo diet lies in avoiding processed foods, so by following a paleo diet and eating like our caveman ancestors, you’re automatically going to avoid consuming high fructose corn syrup and the negative health effects it can inflict on our bodies.

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