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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beware of Corn Syrup

Since its arrival in the marketplace in 1966, corn syrup has been a predominant ingredient in many bottled drinks. Today newspapers and magazines are now declaring this alternative sweetener the number one evil in our diets.

Today the average American consumes more than 62 pounds of corn syrup a year. High-fructose corn syrup is generally cheaper and easier to refine than granulated sugar. So, increasingly, processed food companies have been switching to corn syrup to add sweetness to their products. It is most used in soft drinks and juices. That would have been the end of the story, except for recent research results that suggest that the human body processes corn syrup differently from sugar.

According to the studies, when the body processes sugar, it triggers the production of a chemical that signals fullness to your brain, and also prevents the release of a chemical that signals hunger. But when scientists monitored how the body processes corn syrup, the worst-case scenario seemed to have occurred: The hunger chemical wasn't affected, and the fullness chemical was suppressed. In short, corn syrup, in theory, makes you hungrier.

Is this true? Doctors are debating the point. Many believe that the issue is merely that calories consumed as liquid are less filling than calories from solid food, independent of the form of the calories.

Whatever the case, corn syrup is a big issue for anyone trying to eat healthily. It is ubiquitous, and it is a huge source of empty calories that mess with your body's chemistry. So fight back, starting with bottled drinks. If corn syrup is one of the first four ingredients in a drink, put it back.

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