Corn syrup contains high amounts of fructose, which can increase your appetite and lead to several health issues, such as obesity and diabetes.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Unlike glucose, which most body cells can utilize, fructose breakdown can only occur inside liver cells and cause the formation of metabolites, which eventually damage the cells.
- Excess fructose consumption is linked to the development of NAFLD, fatty steatosis (swelling due to accumulation of fat inside the liver cells), cirrhosis (scarring of the liver cells) and even liver failure.
Leaky gut syndrome
- Your gut contains a beneficial microbiome that helps regulate your metabolism and overall health. Known as the brain-gut axis, it regulates many physiological functions including your:
- feeding behavior
- lipid levels
- Fructose tends to accumulate inside your gut lining and causes an imbalance in your gut flora due to reasons that are still unclear. This may result in gut lining inflammation and leakage of foreign food proteins and bacterial proteins in your blood, leading to low-level inflammation in the body that causes weight gain, hormonal imbalances and type II diabetes.
- Glucose in corn syrup also contributes to cell damage through the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
- Apart from the fact that fructose and glucose contain empty calories that promote weight gain, studies have shown that high fructose corn syrup consumption affects your brain chemistry (due to sugar content) to cause appetite changes and promote binge eating behaviors and sugar cravings.
- The liver will convert excess fructose/glucose to triglycerides, causing hyperlipidemia. Triglycerides are a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and pancreatitis.
- High amounts of sugar intake can damage the pancreatic cells through a process known as glucotoxicity.
- A diet high in corn syrup leads to insulin resistance and high insulin levels in the body.
- Obesity caused by corn syrup itself may additionally promote insulin resistance and hypertriglyceridemia (an independent risk factor for diabetes).
High uric acid levels and gout
- The metabolism of fructose in the liver yields uric acid that may accumulate in the blood causing hyperuricemia.
- Uric acid may crystallize in your soft tissues and joints, which often precipitate a gout attack or urate stones in the kidney.
- Hyperuricemia is an independent risk factor for a type of liver inflammation called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) as well.
Kidney stone formation
- High sucrose and fructose levels in the body increase urine calcium levels, independent of your daily calcium intake. Thus, you may want to avoid corn syrup if you have a history of urinary stones (particularly oxalate stones).
Is natural fructose bad for you?
Fructose (fruit sugar) is a naturally occurring sugar found in honey and fruits, such as dates, raisins, figs and apples. It is also found in freshly pressed fruit juices and vegetables such as carrots.
As per various clinical trials conducted, it is safe to consume 25 to 40 grams of fructose per day as long as it comes from fresh fruits and you do not have problems such as fructose malabsorption. This amounts to three to six bananas or two to three apples in a day.
Fruits high in fructose also contain soluble fiber that maintains healthy gut bacteria and ensures sugar from the fruits is released at a constant pace. Additionally, minerals and polyphenols, as well as vitamins, present in fruits negate the harmful effects of fructose on the body.
Corn syrup is used to make pastries, cakes, syrups, jams and preserves. Fructose provides four kilocalories per gram similar to glucose, but its metabolism in the body is way different compared with that of glucose. The American Heart Association recommends that about 100 and 150 calories a day of sugar for women and men, respectively, is permissible from any source. Thus, moderation is the key.
Should I cut carbohydrates from my diet altogether?
That is definitely not recommended. Although carbs often get a bad reputation for weight gain and diabetes, they are the primary fuel for your body. They regulate your metabolism, regulate your satiety and even have a role in managing healthy gut flora.
Studies have recommended a higher intake of whole grains, fresh fruits and unprocessed millets that contain complex carbs (good carbs), which are associated with healthy weight gain, good satiety and lower risks of metabolic diseases such as type II diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD). You must discuss with your dietician and acquaint yourself with the concept of the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). These two indices govern how fast foods release their sugars in your blood.
Mixed grain bread, soy and linseed bread, chapatti, oat bran bread, fruit loaf/raisin bread
Wholemeal bread, pita bread, croissants, rye bread, crumpets, taco shells
White bread, gluten-free white bread, bagels, Lebanese bread
Rolled oats/porridge, All-Bran, muesli, Special K
Weet-bix, Vita Brits, bran flakes, Sultana Bran, Just Right, Nutrigrain
Rice Bubbles, Corn Flakes, Coco Pops, Fruit Loops, instant oat porridge, Fruity Bix
Pasta, ravioli, instant noodles, rice noodles, rice pasta, quinoa, semolina, 2-minute noodles
Cous cous, gnocchi, rice vermicelli, Dongarra rice, basmati rice, long-grain white rice (boiled)
Brown rice, jasmine rice, sticky rice (sushi rolls), 'quick' rice, congee, corn pasta
Vita Wheat crispbread, Jatz, oatmeal biscuits, Snack Right fruit slice
Ryvita, shredded wheatmeal, Milk Arrowroot, shortbread
Water crackers, Cruskits, rice cakes, rice crackers, corn thins, Saos
Grapefruit, peach, apricot, apple, pear, plum, orange, grapes, banana, cherries, mango, dates
Paw paw, rockmelon, sultantas, apricots, peaches (thinned in syrup), pineapple
Sweet potato, taro, sweet corn, yam, most beans (kidney, red, baked, lima, soy), chickpeas, lentils
Potato (mashed with butter or milk)
White potato, parsnip, broad beans
Milk, yogurt, custard, ice cream, soy milk, Up and Go, Le Rice
Condensed milk, Vaalia yogurt drink
Chocolate, Snickers bar, Milo, Nutella, marmalade, lasagne, corn chips, cashew nuts, sponge cake, banana cake
Mars bar, muesli bars, Nesquik, soft drink, honey, sugar, pizza, popcorn, potato chips
Lucozade, Life Savers, jelly beans, roll-ups, waffles, Skittles, pretzel, donut, pikelet, Gatorade
Foods with a high GI may be avoided, particularly by people with diabetes and who want to lose weight. You may try to replace these with healthier foods such as whole-wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, millet bread, fresh fruits, sweet potatoes and whole-grain crackers.