high fructose corn syrup

  1. Common sweetener spikes hypertension risk by 77 percent

    Doctors always tell you to cut back on your salt intake if you've got high blood pressure. But there's something far more dangerous: a common sweetener found in most snack foods.

    In fact, U.S. researchers found that consuming even modest amounts of this potent sweetener could increase your risk of high blood pressure by as much as 77 percent.

    How can something so sweet be so bad?

    On average, American men and women consume 22 teaspoons (or 90 grams) of sugar each day. And that's too much...about 22 teaspoons too much.

    You see, aside from the obvious concerns about diabetes, sugar also messes with your heart function. In fact, it robs your body of magnesium. And without enough magnesium, your blood vessels constrict. So your heart has to pump harder to get the same volume of blood through narrower blood vessels, which results in high blood pressure.

    HFCS--The worst of the bunch

    High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the worst culprit when it comes to sweeteners. It's a super-sweet, super-potent, and super-addictive form of sugar. (Take it from me, a former sugar addict.)

    Manufacturers use HFCS to sweeten just about every packaged food product on grocery store shelves these days. You'll find it in bread, crackers, cereal, cookies, yogurt, ketchup, and even tomato soup! Of course, it's also used to sweeten soda and fruit juice.

    It's become increasingly prevalent since the 1980s for three reasons. First off, it's cheaper than sugar. Secondly, it extends a product's shelf life. And, lastly, did I mention that it's addicting? No wonder we keep buying it!

    Not surprisingly, it also seems to fast-track your weight gain. A recent study by Princeton scientists found that mice given a diet high in HFCS gained more weight than mice given the equivalent amount of sugar. Plus, there's the small problem of high blood pressure...

    U.S. scientists uncover hypertension-sweetener link

    Scientists from the University of Colorado examined nutritional data for 4,500 adults with no history of hypertension. They found that men and women who consumed 74 grams of HFCS each day (that's less than the average daily intake in the U.S.), significantly increased their risk of high blood pressure.

    In fact, eating just 74 grams of high-fructose corn syrup each day resulted in a:

    • 26 percent increased risk of prehypertension (135/85 mmHg)
    • 30 percent increased risk of Stage 1 hypertension (140/90 mmHg)
    • 77 percent increased risk of Stage 2 hypertension (160/100 mmHg)

    To put it in simpler terms, this means that drinking two and a half cans of soda a day will almost guarantee that one day you'll develop seriously high blood pressure.

    And that day may be a lot closer than you think.

    According to major study from last year, men who consumed a diet high in fructose experienced a spike in blood pressure after just TWO weeks! Yes, after just 14 days of eating foods filled with sugar, many of the men had serious blood pressure issues.

    Yet, when the men eliminated the fructose from their diets, their blood pressure returned to normal.

    What's it all mean for you?

    Eliminating all sugar from your diet will be difficult. As a former sugar-addict trying hard to stay "on the wagon," I know first-hand.

    But once you get past the initial cravings, I guarantee you'll start to feel and look better. It usually takes 21 days for the cravings to go away. Plus, now we know, you'll lower your hypertension risk as well.

    Just remember, manufacturers sneak sugar into just about all packaged food products so you have to be very careful reading labels so you don't miss it. And if you really want to make an impact on your health, you'll need to throw out processed white flour products as well, since your body treats them just like sugar.

    In terms of sweeteners, stay away from anything artificial, such as aspartame, sucralose, or saccharin. I could devote a whole article warning you against these products and that still wouldn't cover it all. Aspartame is by far the worst offender. It turns toxic in the body and can cause serious illnesses.

    The only sweetener I use on occasion is stevia. Derived from the stevia leaf, it's all natural and 300 times sweeter than sugar. So you only need a drop or two in your coffee. And best of all, unlike sugar, stevia has been shown to lower blood pressure in a recent clinical study!

  2. Sugar: The white villain in your diet

    Even if you avoid most sweets, the food industry sneaks sugar in to just about everything on the shelves these days. Just take a look at your favorite whole wheat bread. Chances are, it’s got high fructose corn syrup in it. (This stuff is still sugar. I think of it as sugar on steroids.)

    Sugar is bad news, no matter how you slice it. When it enters your blood stream, your body goes into overdrive trying to get rid of the stuff. Your pancreas releases insulin to help get rid of it. Eventually, it’s converted into glucose and used up by the body as energy (or stored as fat).

    But when you eat lots of refined sugar (or carbs)—such as a white bagel, a soda, or a bowl of cereal—your body goes into overdrive. It starts releasing lots and lots of insulin to deal with the sugar. As a result, your blood sugar drops way too fast and goes way too low.

    By this point, you may start to feel low after your sugar “high” (headaches, fatigue, etc). Plus, because your blood sugar dropped so low, so fast, you may feel cravings for more sugar. Over time, your body gets addicted.

    The ticking time bomb

    Say it’s your birthday and you treat yourself to a big slice of chocolate cake. But you’ve already spent years honing quite a sweet tooth.

    When your body receives the signal to respond to the chocolate cake, the party’s already over. Your pancreas has called it quits. It doesn’t produce the insulin (or can’t produce enough). So your blood sugar stays high…and voila…you have type II diabetes. But you’re not alone. Today, almost 24 million Americans have got it.

    Reversing the damage

    The good news is…you can prevent and even reverse type II diabetes. The key is to control your sugar and carb (which turns into sugar in the body) intake.

    In 2003, researchers at Duke University Medical Center examined the effects of a low-carb diet on blood sugar in diabetics. They found that 95 percent of patients who followed a low-carb diet either reduced their need for insulin or discontinued it all together after 24 weeks.

    I recently read another study about how you can help your body cope with type II diabetes. Researchers at Harvard studied the effects of taking the mineral zinc on women between the ages 33 and 60. A trace mineral found in the body, zinc helps maintain a healthy immune system. It keeps your skin and hair glowing. And it also influences your cognitive and muscle functioning.

    Researchers analyzed nutritional data documenting the women’s zinc intake over a 24-year period. They found that high amounts of zinc reduced a woman’s likelihood of developing diabetes by up to 28 percent. This is a pretty recent study, so I’m sure one with men is probably in the works. I would gamble that zinc performs equally well for men, if not better given the male metabolism.

    Unfortunately, the scientists could not zero in on the mechanism that caused this drop in diabetes risk. More research is needed here as well.

    But the data certainly makes the case for getting more zinc into your diet if you’re at risk for developing type II diabetes. (Interestingly, though not surprisingly, we know that sugar uses up all the zinc stored in our tissues. So if you’ve got a lot of sugar in your diet, it’s not surprising that you’d have low zinc stores as well. And since zinc is vital for healthy skin, it’s also not surprising that a sugar junkie probably doesn’t have a healthy glow.)

    Getting more zinc

    You’ve got to get rid of the straight sugar in your diet. That’s a no brainer. But whole grains may still work for anyone who’s yet to develop full-fledged diabetes.

    Here’s why…

    Whole grain foods contain lots of good nutrients, like zinc. And, whole grains get metabolized much slower than refined flour products. So you’re much less likely to incite an insulin invasion.

    My advice?

    Throw out all the refined flour products in your cabinet. (Refined flour products remove all the healthy nutrients, including zinc.) Keep only the real whole grain breads, crackers, pasta, and cereals. You’ll have to become a serious reader of the ingredients list. Look for whole grains such as “wheat” as the first ingredient. And make sure the products don’t contain “high-fructose corn syrup.”

    As a final note, you’ll find zinc in any good multivitamin. But I’d also recommend taking 50 to 100 additional mg of zinc per day, especially if you’re concerned about your blood sugar. Go for zinc in the chelated form or as zinc picolinate. Also, zinc can deplete your stores of copper. So you’ll also want to take roughly 1 milligram of copper for every 15 milligrams of zinc as a precaution.

    But don’t get carried away. Zinc by itself is nontoxic within these limits. But one study that I know of has linked high doses of zinc over 10 years to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

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