Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Corn Mafia and your arteries

Have some madeira, my dear, he sang in a voice loud and clear. At least it doesn't have high fructose corn syrup--My wife has run a campaign for years on processed foods, particularly drinks, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, essentially barring it from the house as much as possible. That means most drinks, and it ain’t easy. The stuff has crept into food you would not expect. I was initially skeptical, but no more.

Years ago, food manufacturers stopped using sugar to sweeten foods and beverages because they could get fructose cheaper. They could get fructose cheaper because of the Corn Mafia that has essentially run rampant through Congress. Consumption of fructose-bearing drinks has increased 135 percent in the last 40 years. Few commodities are as heavily subsidized as corn, and few Americans suck from the federal teat as deeply as corporate corn farmers. See ethanol, for an example. Another result of our swimming in high fructose corn syrup is the obese American. Another, it turns out, is heart disease.

Fructose-sweetened drinks are more likely to provoke development of fatty artery deposits than sugar, according to a new study at UC Davis. Kimber Stanhope and colleagues compared the results of drinking fructose-laced drinks with glucose in overweight and obese adults for 10 weeks. The subjects ate an otherwise balanced diet. The only difference was what was in the drinks they drank. (The sample was small, about 30 people--I’m being vague because results have not yet been published). After nine weeks, those drinking fructose had an increase in the bad cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride (blood fat) levels increased after only two weeks. Those drinking drinks with sugar had the reverse effect.

The results will be presented next week at the American Diabetes Association meeting in Chicago.

There have been years of study on just how bad fructose is for you. See here, for instance . It is especially damaging to people with diabetes, which is becoming one of America’s most common deadly diseases. One scientist was able to show that the rate of diabetes in America correlated with the wave of corn syrup on the market in 1970.

Don’t expect any help from Washington, of course. They sold out years ago. Meanwhile, Carol keeps reading cans and bottles. She’s right.


CW said...

The stuff is also a common allergen.

Load up on KLP soda, when in season.


Anonymous said...

And check more than cans and bottles. It's in an amazing vatiety of products, including most bread and baked goods.

Joel Shurkin said...

Absolutely. It has generally replaces sugar as a sweetener, sort of out-sourcing sweet.


Natalie said...

Yes, I heard something about how Big Corn is the overlooked Big Tobacco.