Consumption of various sweeteners has
risen in the United States from an estimated 113 pounds per person in 1966 to
147 pounds in 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The increase has raised some concern among
nutrition experts, as echoed by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent
recommendation to limit intake of added sugars in the diet to no more than 10
percent of daily calories, a recommendation that is much more strict than
those of U.S. groups.
Along with the change in the amount of
sugar consumed, the type of sweeteners consumed has also changed--a
transition that may be playing a role in weight gain.
In 1966, refined sugar, known as sucrose,
was the most commonly used sweetener, accounting for 86 percent of all
sweeteners. Currently, sweeteners made from corn are most common, accounting
for 55 percent of sweeteners on the market and bringing in $4.5 billion in
annual sales. The rise in corn sweeteners stems largely from the steady
growth of high-fructose corn syrup, which increased from zero consumption in
1966 to 62.6 pounds per person in 2001.
Among the leading products containing
high-fructose corn syrup are soft drinks and fruit beverages, although
cookies, gum, jams, jellies and baked goods also contain the syrup.
High-fructose corn syrup is made from corn
starch and contains similar amounts of both fructose and glucose. Sucrose, on
the other hand, is a larger sugar molecule that is metabolized in the
intestine into glucose and fructose.
The syrup is easier to blend into
beverages and tastes sweeter than refined sugar, allowing food manufacturers
to use less. Also, the price of high-fructose corn syrup dropped slightly in
the 1980s, leading to huge savings for the food industry.
However, while the switch made sense
economically, fructose is absorbed differently than other sugars, which may
have nutritional consequences. When glucose is consumed, it increases
production of insulin, which enables sugar in the blood to be transported
into cells where it can be used for energy. It also increases production of
leptin, a hormone that helps regulate appetite and fat storage, and
suppresses production of ghrelin, a hormone made by the stomach that helps
regulate food intake. Because of this reaction, it has been suggested that
after eating glucose, hunger declines.
Fructose, however, doesn't stimulate
insulin secretion or increase leptin production or suppress production of
ghrelin. Therefore, researchers suggest that consuming a lot of fructose,
similar to consuming a lot of fat, may contribute to weight gain.
Additionally, fructose is converted into
the chemical backbone of trigylcerides more efficiently than glucose, and
elevated levels of trigylcerides are linked to an increased risk of heart
disease. One study found that fructose produced significantly higher blood
levels of triglycerides in men, although not in women, leading researchers to
say that diets high in fructose may be undesirable, especially for men.
Further, fructose may alter the magnesium
balance in the body, leading to an acceleration of bone loss, according to a
Researchers have also examined evidence
from multiple studies and concluded that large quantities of fructose from a
variety of sources, such as table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, induce
insulin resistance, impair glucose tolerance, produce high levels of insulin,
boost a dangerous type of fat in the blood and cause high blood pressure in
However, other scientists question whether
high-fructose corn syrup acts differently in the body than table sugar and
say that using one over the other wouldn’t make much difference.
Many nutrition experts say that it makes
sense to follow the WHO’s sugar recommendation, although food industry groups
note that there are many factors contributing to the nation’s obesity
epidemic and evidence has not shown that high-fructose corn syrup is a
Post March 11, 2003; Page HE01
Dr. Mercola's Comment
If you have been reading this
newsletter you will know that I am no fan of sugar and specifically fructose.
As I said earlier:
The delusion that fructose is an
acceptable form of sugar is quite prevalent in many nutritional circles.
These studies are important contributions to the scientific literature that
confirm that it is not. Nearly all simple sugars are metabolized quickly and
disrupt insulin levels, which contributes to most chronic illness. So don't
be fooled--avoid fructose just like you would table sugar as they both cause
This doesn't mean that you should avoid
fruit, however. Eating small amounts of whole fruit will NOT provide
tremendous amounts of fructose and should not be a problem for most people,
unless diabetes or obesity is an issue. However, fruit juices, sodas and
other beverages sweetened with fructose should be avoided.
Fructose is not something that should
be in your diet. Yet, as the article states, high-fructose corn syrup is one
of the most commonly used sweeteners.
One of the simplest and most important
things you can do to limit fructose in your diet is eliminate soda and fruit
juices as they have about eight teaspoons of fructose per serving.
Soda should almost be illegal to give
to children. I can't think of any reason or justification to continue such a
Insulin and Syndrome X Can Change Your Life
Fructose is No Answer For
Fructose is Not an
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