Canadian researchers have opined, based on results of a rat-model, that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is as addictive as cocaine – though I’m sure there are many people who are not surprised to find out the cloyingly sweet substance, as well as other types of sugar, can influence our neuroreceptors in a drug-like manner, encouraging repeated consumption.
In the United States, high fructose corn syrup is an alternative sweetener that has primarily replaced sucrose (table sugar) in the food and beverage industry – as HFCS is significantly cheaper in comparison.
HFCS is commonly found in varying quantities in breads, crackers, cereal, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups, canned fruits and vegetables – I repeat, yes in fruits and vegetables that are stored in either syrup or water – canned tuna, salad dressing, and condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup.
In order to achieve the desired level of sweetness, corn syrup undergoes an enzymatic process that converts some of its glucose into fructose.
Research has shown HFCS can influence normal appetite function, and it has been found that some no-calorie sweeteners – which can be 300 to 600 times sweeter than standard table sugar – negatively influence metabolism.
At this time, there’s insufficient evidence to say that HFCS is any less healthy than other types of sweeteners, however, too much added sugar – not just high fructose corn syrup – can contribute unwanted calories which are linked to health problems: weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
An addiction to sweeteners can easily translate to an addiction of sugar-rich fast food and junk food – if you can call it food – that has become an American dietary staple. Professor Francesco Leri of the University of Guelph, who carried out the research, suggested their findings about sweeteners could, at least partly, be contributing to the current global obesity epidemic.
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