Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mercury in high fructose corn syrup may cause damage to the brain and kidneys

Forget the commercials about high fructose corn syrup not being a concern!

Two recent studies found mercury in high fructose corn syrup and in foods containing high fructose corn syrup.

High fructose corn syrup or HFCS is used in almost all soft drinks and in many processed foods such as salad dressings, ketchup, jams, jellies, ice cream and even bread. HFCS contains a high percentage of fructose, much more than regular corn syrup.

Read the Entire Article at

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fructose metabolism by the brain increases food intake and obesity

Increase in consumption of high fructose sweeteners raises concerns

Amsterdam, 25 March 2009 - The journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications ( (BBRC), published by Elsevier, will publish an important review this week online, by M. Daniel Lane and colleagues at Johns Hopkins, building on the suggested link between the consumption of fructose and increased food intake, which may contribute to a high incidence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Over the past four decades life-styles have gravitated toward the excessive consumption of 'high energy' foods and sedentary behavior that has resulted in a high incidence of obesity and its pathological consequences. This scenario has led to the increased occurrence of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. At present, approximately thirty percent of adult Americans can be classified as obese. Moreover, these changes now extend into the younger age group.

M. Daniel Lane and co-workers at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore have now pulled together work, largely in their laboratory (many papers beginning in 2000), dealing with the role of malonyl-CoA in the signaling system in the brain (specifically the hypothalamus) that has inputs into the higher brain centers that determine feeding behavior, most notably appetite. Two papers in the journal PNAS in 2007 and 2008 showed that glucose and fructose act quite differently in the brain (hypothalamus) - glucose decreasing food intake and fructose increasing food intake. Both of these sugars signal in the brain through the malonyl-CoA signaling pathway and have inverse effects on food intake.

Lane commented: "We feel that these findings may have particular relevance to the massive increase in the use of high fructose sweeteners (both high fructose corn syrup and table sugar) in virtually all sweetened foods, most notably soft drinks. The per capita consumption of these sweeteners in the USA is about 145 lbs/year and is probably much higher in teenagers/youth that have a high level of consumption of soft drinks. There is a large literature now that correlates, but does not prove that a culprit in the rise of teenage obesity may be fructose."

The fact that fructose metabolism by the brain increases food intake and obesity risk raises health concerns in view of the large and increasing per capita consumption of high fructose sweeteners, especially by youth.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Food Fight: The Battle Over Sweeteners

There hasn't been such a costly fight in the cornfields since the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862.

In this case, it's the battle of the Corn Refiners Association. The trade group, made up of seven U.S. agri-giants, has spent a reported $30 million over the last nine months to convince everyone that high-fructose corn syrup, once a favorite sweetener, is just as healthy as sugar. So far, the ad campaign--on TV and in print--seems to be falling on deaf ears. This month, Snapple and Pepsi (nyse: PEP - news - people ), for example, launched "natural," sugar-sweetened versions of their drinks, caving to consumer demands for supposedly healthier ingredients.

It's a tough fight for the old CRA, which is trying to restore a tarnished image. The group won a technical victory last summer, when the Food and Drug Administration ruled in favor of calling the sweetener natural. Trouble is, soft-drink makers only seem to be slapping on the "natural" label for beverages sweetened with sugar.

The CRA seems to be losing on another, more critical, front. Back in 2004, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a paper written by Louisiana State University biomedical professor Dr. George Bray, linking high-fructose corn syrup to obesity. The body doesn't digest or metabolize fructose in the same way it does glucose (simple sugar), the paper said. Fructose doesn't stimulate insulin or leptin production, two things that regulate food intake and body weight. Take in high-fructose corn syrup, the paper claimed, and you consume too much--and put on the pounds.

Read the Entire Article at

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Log Cabin Syrup kicks high fructose

This still will not come close to 100% real maple syrup, but the real thing is a pricey item for most families. Nonetheless, ask for the improved Log Cabin Syrup for breakfast in restaurants.

As more and more people turn to dining at home and selecting foods that are as natural as possible, Log Cabin Syrup ( is in tune with the times by introducing a reformulated syrup that replaces high fructose corn syrup with real sugar.

Log Cabin has been an American breakfast table staple since 1887. A great way to reintroduce yourself to Log Cabin if you haven't tried it in a while is with another new item, this one in the frozen food section - Van's All Natural Pancakes & French Toast Sticks (

These heated up in a jiffy in our toaster oven, but you can also pop them into the toaster to serve piping hot within a few minutes. You have your choice of wheat-free or buttermilk pancakes, and wheat free cinnamon or homestyle French Toast Sticks. Children (and parents) really love the quick convenience of these breakfast goodies, especially on a Sunday morning when mom and dad want to sleep in, but the kids want a fancy breakfast and they are early birds.
Until our next food find...may all your food finds be fabulous!


Is a Food Revolution Now in Season?

The federal government is culpable, the activists say, because it pays farmers billions in subsidies each year for growing grains and soybeans. A result is an abundance of corn and soybeans that provide cheap feed for livestock and inexpensive food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup.

As tens of thousands of people recently strolled among booths of the nation’s largest organic and natural foods show here, munching on fair-trade chocolate and sipping organic wine, a few dozen pioneers of the industry sneaked off to an out-of-the-way conference room.

Although unit sales of organic food have leveled off and even declined lately, versus a year earlier, the mood among those crowded into the conference room was upbeat as they awaited a private screening of a documentary called “Food Inc.” — a withering critique of agribusiness and industrially produced food.

They also gathered to relish their changing political fortunes, courtesy of the Obama administration.

“This has never been just about business,” said Gary Hirshberg, chief executive of Stonyfield Farm, the maker of organic yogurt. “We are here to change the world. We dreamt for decades of having this moment.”

After being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House, which has vowed to encourage a more nutritious and sustainable food supply.

Read the Entire Article at The New York Times

Thursday, March 19, 2009

High-fructose corn syrup: Good or bad?

I saw a TV commercial recently that touted the health benefits of high-fructose corn syrup. At first, I thought it might be a skit from “Saturday Night Live.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

There are several versions of the commercial, and they all inform us that high-fructose corn syrup is made from corn — a healthy vegetable; it has the same number of calories as sugar and honey; and it’s perfectly fine in moderation.

Sounds reasonable. So why is high-fructose corn syrup high on the list of dietary villains that help make us fat and contribute to the host of chronic diseases that cause us to live sicker and die quicker than virtually every other advanced industrialized nation? As is the case with most health issues, sound-bite commercials mask the complexities of the matter and often are misleading. Let’s take a look.

Read the Entire Article at

Could sugar shake off its bad boy image?

Sugar could be shedding its bad boy image to take a surprise spot on the public’s list of trusted ingredients, as manufacturers look to appeal to more savvy consumers.

High fructose corn syrup in several major-brand soft drinks is being replaced with old-fashioned sugar.

Last week, the vice president of marketing for Snapple told this website that the switch to sugar in its iced teas was all about “delivering great taste”. But he said there’s nothing wrong with the taste of HFCS – indeed, the company sees the two sweeteners as “about the same”.

Like Snapple, similar moves for newly released soft drinks include ‘retro versions’ of Pepsi and Mountain Dew, which feature 1970s-style packaging and 1970s-style formulation, sweetened with sugar instead of HFCS.

There could be nothing more to it than taste, of course, but given current consumer attitudes to HFCS, it seems possible that this is being used as a trial run for a wider move back to sugar.

Read the Entire Article at

Friday, March 13, 2009

Study addresses role of gene in treating diabetes, liver disease

God forbid if your a heavy drinker and you are imbibing your liquor with high fructose laden soft drinks.

Inhibiting the gene PGC-1b may play an important role in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance caused by an increased consumption of high fructose corn syrup, according to Yale medical researchers in the March issue of Cell Metabolism Journal.

Normally, PGC-1b regulates liver glucose and lipid metabolism while simple sugars are converted into fatty acids in the body, Cell Metabolism reported. However, when the body is introduced to large amounts of high fructose corn syrup, PGC-1b increases the actions of an element binding protein that causes fructose-induced insulin resistance, leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

Read the Entire Article at The Daily Toreador

Polydextrose Fiber: More Corporately Engineered Food Synthesization

You are what you eat......

Dietary Fibber
Don't be fooled by polydextrose and other fiber additives.

I was eating Cocoa Pebbles recently for dinner (yes, I'm a bachelor) when I noticed something strange on the nutrition label. Cocoa Pebbles, according to the box, is a "good source of fiber." Who knew that I could get as many grams of fiber from Cocoa Pebbles as I could from a bowl of Cheerios or a slice of whole wheat bread? After a little research, I learned that higher doses of fiber are showing up in all sorts of bizarre places, like yogurts, cookies, brownies, ice creams, and diet drinks. Fiber, perhaps the only nutrient to be mocked in a Saturday Night Live parody commercial, is getting a makeover. And although we're eating more of it, it's not the same nutrient we've always known.

The fiber in Cocoa Pebbles comes from a little-known ingredient called polydextrose, which is synthesized from glucose and sorbitol, a low-calorie carbohydrate. Polydextrose is one of several newfangled fiber additives (including inulin and maltodextrin) showing up in dairy and baked-goods products that previously had little to no fiber. Recent FDA approvals have given manufacturers a green light to add polydextrose to a much broader range of products than previously permitted, allowing food companies to entice health-conscious consumers who normally crinkle their noses at high-fiber products due to the coarse and bitter taste of the old-fashioned roughage. These fiber additives serve dual purposes—they can serve as bulking agents to make reduced-calorie products taste better, such as the case with Breyers fat-free ice cream, and carry an added appeal to consumers by showing up as dietary fiber on food labels.

The problem with this is that nobody knows if these fiber additives possess the same health benefits as natural fiber found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber, which consists of nondigestible carbohydrates, was already one of the least understood nutrients even before the introduction of ingredients like polydextrose. Nutritionists and scientists have wrestled for years with how to define fiber and measure its health impact. It's a tricky thing to conduct a fiber study. (Consider for a moment the logistics of organizing a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind, fecal-mass study.) Even when it comes to the natural, wholesome stuff, like oats and kidney beans, nutritionists don't know for sure whether the health benefits derive from the fiber itself or from the collective impact of high-fiber foods.

The most recently accepted grouping by the Institute of Medicine divides fiber into two categories: dietary and functional. Dietary is the kind found naturally and intact in oat bran, whole wheat, beans, prunes, peas, and almonds, and other plants. Functional refers to both the synthetic variety like polydextrose as well as naturally occurring inulin, which is extracted and purified from chicory roots.

Polydextrose shares with dietary fiber one fundamental property: It seems to rev up your GI tract. It does so, however, at a fraction of the level of wheat bran. And while diets heavy in oat bran have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and whole grains have been linked to lower risks of heart disease, there's no evidence that polydextrose protects cardiovascular health. A spokeswoman for Danisco, a leading producer of polydextrose, says it promotes digestive health but added: "Of course, it is harder to prove without doubt the health benefits of adding a single ingredient to the diet, than it is to prove the benefits of consuming natural fibers in fruits." Studies on animals have shown that inulin has a pre-biotic effect by altering intestinal microflora, but the "potential beneficial effects in humans are not well understood," according to a 2005 report by the IOM.

But you wouldn't know that from the FDA-approved food labels, which don't distinguish between dietary and functional fiber. The FDA allows polydextrose to be labeled as a dietary fiber, just the same as whole oats. The same polydextrose products in Canada, which has tighter classification regulations, wouldn't show the fiber content because Health Canada doesn't consider polydextrose to be a dietary fiber. Naturally, food manufacturers in America are taking advantage of this loophole—to the distress of nutrition watchdog groups. "Companies are putting fiber into foods like cookies and ice cream and making people think these are healthy foods, when in fact they should be eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It's dressing up junk food as health food," says Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C. "We have no idea if polydextrose has the same benefits as bran. It's deceptive."

For example, Campbell's V8 High Fiber, which Liebman calls "high fibber," claims on its label to offer "20 percent of the recommended daily value" of fiber per 8-ounce glass. As Liebman pointed out in a recent report, the fiber that Campbell's is talking about is maltodextrin, which she says has not been shown to have "any impact on regularity, or any aspect of digestive health." You may have seen the goofy Fiber One Yogurt commercial in which a supermarket employee watches an older woman wolf down yogurt after yogurt. "That's her fourth free sample. ... She's almost had a whole day's worth already," he says, flabbergasted. "And I still can't taste the fiber," the woman replies incredulously. There's a reason for that. The makers of Fiber One Yogurt haven't invented some magically creamy and delicious version of wheat bran. They simply stuffed the yogurt with inulin. A spokeswoman for General Mills, the makers of the yogurt, defends the advertising by pointing to studies showing that inulin suppresses appetite and promotes regularity. Inulin has not been shown to reduce cholesterol levels or lower blood pressure and has a much smaller laxative effect than wheat bran, says Liebman.

Ironically, the rise of these faux-fibers is driven by the greater attention that consumers are paying to nutrition labels. The food companies, in other words, are teaching to the test. Whether it's reducing fat and calories or adding fiber and vitamins, the industry is getting ever more clever at manipulating ingredients of snacks and other treats so that the stats mimic the nutritional data of fruits and vegetables. To be sure, the fortification of foods can facilitate healthier eating. There's not much difference between getting your calcium from milk or from fortified orange juice. (Sometimes, the added nutrients may be beneficial on their own but not when they're inserted into certain foods. The omega-3 fatty acids pumped into eggs, for example, don't cancel out the cholesterol.)

The fiber trend is different and more worrisome. The benefits of "fiber" nutrients like polydextrose are questionable. The makers of Cocoa Pebbles admitted as much when asked about the use and promotion of polydextrose as a dietary fiber. "We are removing the polydextrose ingredient from Pebbles. That is actually happening now," says Scott Monette, a spokesman for Ralcorp, which owns Post cereal brands. He says the company is instead fortifying the cereal with higher doses of vitamin D, which he describes as a "more timely and relevant" nutrient. Just last month, it was reported that vitamin D may protect against common colds and dementia. That should ease my mind next time I rip open a box of Pebbles.

Via Slate

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Link Seen Between High Fructose Corn Syrup Consumption and Insulin Resistance

Introduced in the 1970s as an abundant and cheap sweetening agent, high-fructose corn syrup has become so popular that every American now consumes about sixty pounds a year.

Whenever Diabetes Health publishes an article about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), we receive mountains of printed material from corn industry advocates. They argue that the effects of HFCS cannot be extrapolated from research because the "studies look at the effects of fructose independently." They claim, in the words of Christopher Mohr, MS, RD, LDN, of the Corn Refiners Association, that "the absence of glucose makes pure fructose fundamentally different from HFCS."

Diabetes Health doesn't have the wherewithal at the moment to examine all sides of the argument. We suggest that if the topic interests you, you do your own due diligence and come to your own conclusion. In the meantime, Yale University researchers say that a study in mice shows that diets heavy in high-fructose corn syrup can lead to insulin resistance. At the same time they found that if they blocked the activity of a gene called PGC-1B, mice on a high-fructose diet were protected from insulin resistance.

Introduced in the 1970s as an abundant and cheap sweetening agent, high-fructose corn syrup has become so popular that every American now consumes about sixty pounds a year. For that reason, the sweetener has become a source of concern to doctors and scientists who treat metabolic disorders. Because the liver more readily metabolizes fructose into fat than it does glucose, high fructose consumption can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disorder, often a precursor to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

While earlier studies had pointed to a gene called SREBP-1, which regulates the manufacture of lipids in the liver, as the primary cause for increased fatty acids and triglycerides in that organ, researchers weren't sure just how it worked.

When the Yale researchers found that PGC-1B might be responsible for boosting expression levels of SREBP-1, they tested their suspicion by blocking its activity in mice that were being fed a four-week diet high in fructose. Blocking PGC-1B lowered the expression levels of SREBP-1 and other fat building genes in their livers, reversed their insulin resistance, and led to a tripling of glucose uptake in their fatty tissue.

Practical benefits from this line of research could lead to a gene-specific therapy designed to help lower insulin resistance.

Via DiabetesHealth

Study Shows Corn is King at McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King

A new study suggests most fast-food beef and chicken items come from corn-fed animals. It’s not a new revelation; Michael Pollan’s 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma documented the ubiquity of corn products — or corn-fed products — in supermarkets as well as fast-food restaurants, thanks in no small part to huge government subsidies for corn. But according to the study’s authors, this is the first time anyone has measured the trend in meat through scientific means.

By looking at carbon and nitrogen isotopes, co-authors A. Hope Jahren and Rebecca Kraft concluded that out of the 162 fast food burgers they tested, only 12 could have been from cows fed anything other than corn. And all of the chicken sandwiches were made from corn-fed chickens. Their meat samples came from McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s franchises in different cities across the U.S. — and all the non-corn-fed samples came from West Coast Burger Kings.

The authors also claim that the presence of particular isotopes proves these animals were kept in cramped confinement. But Dr. Frank Monahan, who has performed similar studies in Ireland, told Forbes that the findings didn’t necessarily prove confinement — if the animals were given feed grown with nitrogen-rich fertilizer, that could lead to similar levels of the nitrogen 15 isotope.

As for oils used in deep-frying, the study concluded: “Wendy’s clearly used only corn oil, whereas McDonald’s and Burger King favored other vegetable oils; this differed from ingredient reports.”

Both Burger King and McDonald’s declined to comment on the study, while a Wendy’s spokesman told Forbes that the company has “very strict procedures in place” on animal welfare.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Corny Politics

An column in the Washington Post explores the connection between politics, corn and obesity. Subsidies enables the market to sell “‘large quantities of calories as cheaply as possible,’ especially calories coming from corn.” to the apparent detriment to the health of millions and the destruction of the environment.

Much of the river of cheap corn becomes an ocean of high-fructose corn syrup, which by 1984 was sweetening Coke and Pepsi.

America's food industry uses about as much petroleum as America's automobiles do.

Tom Vilsack, Iowa's former governor, calls his "the most important department in government," noting that the Agriculture Department serves education through school nutrition programs and serves diplomacy by trying to wean Afghanistan from a poppy-based (meaning heroin-based) economy. But Vilsack's department matters most because of the health costs of the American diet. If Michael Pollan is right, the problem is rooted in politics and, in a sense, Iowa.

Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food," says that after World War II, the government had a huge surplus of ammonium nitrate, an ingredient of explosives -- and fertilizer. Furthermore, pesticides could be made from ingredients of poison gases. Since 1945, the food supply has increased faster than America's population -- faster even than Americans can increase their feasting.

Agricultural commodity prices generally fall. But since a rare surge in food prices gave the Nixon administration a political scare, government policy, expressed in commodity subsidies, has been, Pollan writes, to sell "large quantities of calories as cheaply as possible," especially calories coming from corn.

"All flesh is grass" says the scripture. Much of the too-ample flesh of Americans (three of five are overweight; one in five is obese) comes from corn, which is a grass. A quarter of the 45,000 items in the average supermarket contain processed corn. Fossil fuels are involved in planting, fertilizing, harvesting, transporting and processing the corn. America's food industry uses about as much petroleum as America's automobiles do.

Read George Will's Entire Column in The Washington Post

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The 11 Dirty Little Secrets Your Grocery Store Is Hiding

True or false? Your local grocer employs a scheming team of experts who work behind the scenes to orchestrate every little detail in a devious effort to squeeze every cent they can out of you.

It’s true. Even your favorite organic food stores are guilty of this. So, how can you beat them at their own game? Here’s what you need to know:

Baked Goods - Not So Fresh

Although there are exceptions, most of what you find in the bakery sections at grocery stores was frozen when it arrived. Sure, the scene they set up can be quite convincing: employees in white chef hats working behind the counter with flour-coated hands. But, if you think you’re getting freshly baked goods, chances are you’re mistaken.

Manipulative Placement

The most expensive items and those that aren’t general diet staples are typically placed at eye level because they’re easier for you to reach. Before you insist that such an obvious ploy is an insult to your intelligence, it’s actually proven to be a pretty effective method.

Manipulative Placement, Jr.

This last tactic applies to children, as well. Foods that are marketed towards younger age groups are usually found on lower shelves, where kids can easily reach out and grab them.

Impulse Buys

An average of 60- 70% of purchases aren’t on a shopper’s original list, which are what the marketing department refers to as “impulse buys”. Staple items commonly line the perimeters of stores, guiding consumers through aisle upon aisle of goods they don’t need. That includes those displays set up strategically at the ends of aisles. There’s a good reason why manufacturers pay top dollar for this placement.

Clever Packaging

Instead of raising prices, many manufacturers reduce the weight of items but don’t change the packaging. In fact, the only difference you’ll notice is stamped in small print at the bottom.

Old Produce

Frozen fruits and vegetables usually contain more vitamins than what you find in the fresh produce section. Why? Flash-freezing preserves the nutrients they contain as well. Plus, they’re not as expensive. If you do buy produce, get it at farmers’ markets or high-volume grocery stores where there is rapid turnover of products. Smaller grocers that are less trafficked often have older produce, meat and dairy.

More Bulk = Less Cash

Remember when buying in bulk was a great way to save money? The sun has set on those good old days. In many cases, economy-size products actually cost more per unit. So, carry a calculator and do the math yourself. Your grocer isn’t the only one trying to dupe you. Manufacturers of the items you purchase have their hand in these decisions as well.

Food Safety

Food shopping can really work up an appetite, so, when you stroll by the salad bar, you may be tempted to indulge. If your stomach starts growling, keep in mind that these foods are kept out in the open at unsafe temperatures. And, that glass deli case doesn’t provide much more protection, so curb your cravings for pre-made tuna and tapioca pudding. Anybody want some salmonella or E. coli on the side? I didn’t think so.

Cheap Fillers

Sugar is added to a lot of products as filler simply because it’s cheap. If you think scanning the ingredients to see where it ranks is an accurate system, guess again. To trick consumers, the manufacturers use different types (sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup) to disguise this fact. So, even if the combination makes up a primary ingredient, they get bumped down on the list separately as a result.

The Fine Print

There are other ways manufacturers mislead consumers, and grocery stores are all too happy to let you be fooled. For example, if you’re looking for a product made with whole wheat, read the labels very carefully. The only guarantee is if it says “100% whole wheat”. If this phrase is preceded by the word “contains”, put it down and move on.

Store Brands

Are you wary of the quality of store brands? Don’t be. Many of the more expensive versions of these items are made by the same companies. All you’re paying for is the label.

Via ecosalon

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Future of Food: What Every Person Should Know with Deborah Garcia

Monsanto's Many Attempts to Destroy All Seeds but Their Own

See The Future of Food Website

The sticky business of high-fructose corn syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is in everything. So what's in the syrup?

Dear Vanessa,

I’ve been told that I should avoid high-fructose corn syrup, and yesterday I read that there is mercury in the syrup. Why would mercury be in a food product, anyway? And what’s the problem with corn syrup in general?

— Feeling Corny in the Heartland

Dear Corny,

There are many issues about high-fructose corn syrup, all of them connected to corn-focused industrial agriculture, a practice that is destroying our health and our environment.

Let's start with corn. How did we transform a native grain that sustained myriad cultures for thousands of years into a symbol of everything that's wrong with our economy, agriculture and health? (This will be an exercise in restraint for me. I will do my best to ignore that high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, originates in a simple corn field and focus on the complex problems surrounding this sticky, adulterated version of corn-stuff.)

So what’s the problem with HFCS? It is a highly processed, unnatural product, yet it is often sold under “all natural” labels. It is artificially cheap because of America's massive corn subsidies. And though it's calorie-rich, it's nutritionally impoverished. HFCS is also a significant cause of the obesity pandemic — just look at the way the rapid rise in obesity mirrors the rise in HFCS consumption.

Read More at Mother Nature Network

Poison in America's favourite sweetener

High levels of poison have been found in one of the most common food sweeteners.

Researchers from the US’s Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) tested the levels of mercury in the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used as a sweetener in 55 American products. Dangerous levels were found in one product in three including in products made by Quaker and Kraft.

Because it is cheaper, easier to use and lasts longer than other sweeteners, HFCS use has increased greatly in recent years replacing sugar in many processed foods including fizzy drinks, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. All the products tested were products in which HFCS was the first or second highest labeled ingredient.

Similar research published in the journal Environmental Health found mercury in 9 out of 20 products tested.

The IATP estimate that, on average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS with many teenagers consuming nearer 20.

The IATP’s David Wallinga said: ‘Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.’

Caustic Soda

The question is how is this contamination occuring? HFCS is, on the face of it, just fructose and glucose, a natural product and it is often marketed as such. Except that it is not. It is an industrial product created from corn starch using caustic soda. Caustic soda itself is often manufactured using mercury. No longer such a mystery.

The IATP accuse the Food and Drug Administration in the USA, where corn is subsidised, of knowing about the problem but doing nothing.

‘The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury,’ said Dr Wallinga. ‘The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients.’

HCFS is less widely-used in Europe and is more often called glucose-fructose syrup in the UK. Isoglucose is a similar product.

Via MaleHealth

Three New HFCS-Free Drinks From Pepsi

We already told you about Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback — now there's Pepsi Natural.

BusinessWeek says Pepsi Natural "contains all-natural ingredients, including light sparkling water, natural sugar, natural caramel and kola nut extract."

This sounds an awful lot like Pepsi "Raw" which has been available in the UK for awhile now.

Reuters says that Pepsi Natural "be will be sold in glass bottles in the premium or natural food aisles of stores in 10 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle."

Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback will be sold nationwide for two months starting on April 20.

Via The Consumerist

Friday, March 6, 2009

Gene Explains How High-Fructose Diets Lead to Insulin Resistance

Corn syrup more easily metabolizes to fat in liver, which may trigger disease, study says

A gene called PGC-1b appears to play a role in insulin resistance that can be caused by consuming large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener found in most sodas and many processed foods.

Researchers found that mice fed a high-fructose diet were protected from insulin resistance when PGC-1b activity was blocked in the rodents' liver and fat tissue. The findings were published in the March issue of Cell Metabolism.

"There has been a remarkable increase in consumption of high-Fructose corn syrup," Gerald Shulman, of the Yale School of Medicine, said in a journal news release. "Fructose is much more readily metabolized to fat in the liver than glucose is, and, in the process, can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)," which, in turn, leads to hepatic insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

High-fructose corn syrup -- a mixture of the simple sugars fructose and glucose -- came into use in the 1970s. By 2005, the average American consumed about 60 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup a year.

The study authors said their findings indicate that PGC-1b plays an important role in the development of fructose-induced insulin resistance. The gene may offer a target for new drugs to treat insulin resistance, NAFLD and hypertriglyceridemia, they concluded.

In an accompanying commentary, two experts said the study shows that PGC-1b is "a missing link between fructose intake and metabolic disorders."

"The findings ... support the emerging role of gene/environment interaction in modulating the metabolic phenotype and disease pathogenesis. Thus, perturbations of the same regulatory motif may produce vastly different metabolic responses, depending on the specific combinations of dietary nutrients," wrote Carlos Hernandez and Jiandie Lin of the University of Michigan Medical Center, in Ann Arbor.

Via US News & World Report

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sugary pop hard on women's kidneys

One theory is that high quantities of high-fructose corn syrup might cause damage to enzymes in the kidneys

Women who drink two or more cans of sugary pop a day are nearly twice as likely to show early signs of kidney disease, Loyola University researchers have found.

But there was no such risk for women who drank diet pop.

And for men, drinking large amounts of pop -- either regular or diet -- wasn't linked at all with the elevated protein levels in their urine that are an early sign the kidneys aren't functioning properly.

One theory is that high quantities of high-fructose corn syrup might cause damage to enzymes in the kidneys, said study co-author Dr. Holly Kramer, a professor of medicine at Loyola's Stritch School of Medicine.

If corn syrup contains mercury, as has been found in two other studies, that could also play a role in damaging the kidneys of frequent pop drinkers, Kramer said.

It's not clear, though, why sugary soft drinks would harm women more than men.

"It could be that men have a much larger body mass, so it could be a dose effect," Kramer said. "Or it could be that women are inherently more sensitive to the effect."

The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, was based on a national sample of 9,300 men and women with no history of diabetes.

Via The Chicago Sun-Times

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Do your own HFCS study

Imagine my surprise when last Wednesday, the very day the column “Peanut butter recall can open our eyes” came out in the Sun-Times, I had an email from Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association. It is quite amazing that the large association took notice of three comments made in this small town newspaper, especially in such a short time.

One of the comments which offended President Erickson was: “The large amounts of different forms of sugar, including high fructose corn syrup, contained in processed foods have undoubtedly kindled the increase in diabetes seen in both children and adults.” Erickson said, that other countries where they don’t use HFCS also have rising rates of diabetes and obesity which supports findings of the Centers for Disease Control and the American Diabetes Association that the primary causes of diabetes are obesity, advancing age, and heredity.

Read the Entire Article at The Sun-Times

Monday, March 2, 2009

Passover Is Coming, And It's Your Chance To Buy Real Sugar Products

Passover is a holiday that has special meaning to everyone, regardless of faith, because it's the time of year when some food and drink companies release products sweetened with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). If you want to stock up on real sugar Coca-cola or u-bet chocolate syrup, or if you just want to see whether you can really taste a difference between HFCS and cane or beet sugar, now's your chance.

Passover will begin at sunset on Wednesday, April 8th this year, and last until April 15th, and although normally corn isn't an issue, the special kosher requirements of Passover forbid grain-based foods—hence the ban on HFCS. Gut yontev! Google has made me a Jewish scholar! I think this also means that I am a man now.

Anyway, non-HFCS products should be appearing on shelves now or in the next couple of weeks, so be on the lookout for them. Here are some photos of products to show you what to look for.

Seven Steps to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup is commonly used in place of sugar in processed foods in the USA. In fact, the average American eats an astounding 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year. American subsidies and tariffs have resulted in corn being a much more economical sweetener than sugar--a trend that is not seen in other parts of the world. Now that high fructose corn syrup is being added to an increasing variety of foods (breads, cereals, soft drinks, and condiments); some people are looking for ways to avoid it.

1) Be clear about your reasons for avoiding high fructose corn syrup.

Reasons cited for avoiding it are:

Beverages containing high fructose corn syrup have high levels of reactive carbonyls which are linked with cell and tissue damage that leads to diabetes, although no significant metabolic differences exist between high fructose corn syrup and regular sugar.

The corn from which high fructose corn syrup is derived may be genetically modified.

There are increasing concerns about the politics surrounding the economics of corn production (subsidies, tariffs, and regulations) as well as the effects of intensive corn agriculture on the environment.

Some people are allergic to products derived from corn.

Although the enzymatic process used to create high fructose corn syrup is a naturally occurring process, it is an additional processing step that sugar refined from beets does not undergo.

Some argue that sugar simply tastes better than high fructose corn syrup.

2) Avoid fast food. Fast food often contains high fructose corn syrup.

3) Read food labels. This is the easiest and most sure-fire way to know if there is high fructose corn syrup in your food. High fructose corn syrup can be found even in products which aren't sweet, such as sliced bread and processed meats like sausage and ham.

4) Understand what "natural" or "organic" means on labels. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate the use of the word "natural". Foods and beverages can be labeled as "natural" even though they contain high fructose corn syrup, because fructose is a naturally occurring sugar.

Products that say "made with organic (specified ingredients or food groups)" cannot contain non-organic HFCS. They cannot be labeled as "organic", and they cannot utilize the USDA seal.

Products labeled "organic" can carry the USDA seal and can include organic HFCS. These products must contain 95% organic ingredients by weight or volume excluding water and salt. The remaining 5% must be on the National List of allowed substances. Since HFCS is not on that list, HFCS can only be included if it is organic.

Only foods labeled as 100% organic can be assumed to be HFCS-free. While there is organic HFCS available[10] it is not 100% organic and therefore cannot be included in a product that is labeled 100% organic.

5) Avoid canned or bottled beverages. Soft drinks, sports drinks, lemonade, iced tea, and almost every sweet drink you can think of contains high fructose corn syrup.

Buy from small bottlers who use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Some smaller brands, such as Jones Soda and Dublin Dr. Pepper, have switched to pure cane sugar.

Buy soft drinks from across the border. If you must have your fix of certain soda brands and you happen to live near Canada or Mexico, look into buying in bulk from those countries, which use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.[8]

Check the Passover section of your supermarket. Some soda companies produce a sugar/sucrose-based version of their products around Passover for Jews who are restricted by custom from eating corn during this time. Coca-Cola produces a version of Coke without corn syrup that can be identified by a yellow cap and is considered by some to taste better than Coke Zero, which is also free of corn syrup but contains artificial sweeteners, not sugar.

6) Lower your sweetener consumption altogether. It's been suggested that the supposed link between high fructose corn syrup and obesity is not due to the high fructose corn syrup itself, but to the increasing consumption of sweeteners in general, especially soft drinks. In fact, where the fructose comes from doesn't seem to matter. The fructose found in fruits could be just as bad as that added to soft drinks. The USDA recommends that a person with a 2000 calorie, balanced diet should consume no more than 32 g (8 tsp) of added sugar per day. Here are some sweet foods and the percentage of the daily recommended amount of sweeteners they provide:

typical cup of fruit yogurt - 70%

cup of regular ice cream - 60%

12-ounce Pepsi - 103%

Hostess Lemon Fruit Pie - 115%

serving of Kellogg's Marshmallow Blasted Froot Loops - 40%

quarter-cup of pancake syrup - 103%

Cinnabon - 123%

large McDonald's Shake - 120%

large Mr. Misty Slush at Dairy Queen - 280%

Burger King's Cini-minis with icing - 95%

7) Buy fresh produce and learn to cook it. One major problem is too much refined and processed food, not any one particular ingredient.

The Autism-Mercury Connection?

Almost half of tested samples of High Fructose Corn Syrup contain mercury, according to two recent U.S. studies done by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. High Fructose Corn Syrup can be found in everything from English Muffins to Yogurt. In the past 25 years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the use of HFCS in our food; in fact a 4,000 percent per capita increase of HFCS production since 1973. It now accounts for 40 % of all added sweeteners used in the American diet. Chances are very good that you and/or your children ate something containing HFCS today.

The past 25 years have also seen an explosion in autism rates in the U.S. Autism is a complex developmental disorder diagnosed in 1 out of every 150 American children. Ten years ago that statistic was 1 out of every 500. While no one knows what causes autism, there is considerable research showing that elevated rates of mercury and other environmental toxins may play a significant role in the surge of autistic American children. While we may not be able to make a definitive statement about causation in the average child, there certainly seems to be a connection between immuno-deficient children developing autism when exposed to increased levels of environmental toxins.

Read More at When Falls the Coliseum

High Fructose Jerusalem Artichoke Syrup?

The Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources, in Danville, Va., is studying the potential to use the Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosis), a perennial native sunflower species, as a feedstock for producing ethanol.

The institute is a research center jointly affiliated with the departments of horticulture and forestry at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) ( that’s focused on developing new opportunities for farming communities affected by declining tobacco and textile markets.

The Jerusalem artichoke grows from tubers and produces inulin, a fructose polymer. The plant stores the inulin in its stem until it flowers, when the inulin is then translocated to the tuber. “The plant grows like a weed,” said Dr. M. Javed Iqbal, a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources. “Even if you harvest most of the tubers, there will still be one left that will grow back again. It's kind of a nuisance in the Upper Midwest, because it's hard to get rid of, which leads to one of the problems, actually: It grows so thick that you sometimes have to thin it.”

Iqbal said Native Americans used Jerusalem artichoke tubers as food. Settlers brought the tuber back to Europe and today, scientists in Spain are looking at the plant as a feedstock for ethanol production. Iqbal said Chinese researchers are also looking at the feedstock. “There is a good amount of research going on (for) producing ethanol from the Jerusalem artichoke,” he said, “but unfortunately, not in the U.S.—other than me.” Iqbal laughed. “I don't know why people aren't interested in using it. Everybody is after switchgrass. There is nothing wrong with that, but we need to have alternative feedstocks, also.”

To improve the Jerusalem artichoke’s potential as a feedstock for ethanol, Iqbal said the institute is identifying the genes that regulate flowering and the translocation of sugars in the plant. The institute plans to modify the genes to prolong the growing season, increase sugar production, and delay the translocation of sugars.

Iqbal said because of the sugar that’s produced is inulin, the Jerusalem artichoke might also be harvested to produce high fructose syrup, displacing the need for corn starch.

Currently, the institute is growing 23 varieties of Jerusalem artichoke growing the plant in a one-acre plot; some of the varieties can grow to be two meters high, Iqbal said. He said the institute’s goal is to build a pilot-scale biorefinery to produce ethanol from the plant.

“We need to make people aware that there are a lot of alternative feedstocks, “Iqbal said. “There are other crops (besides corn) that are ready to be used. The Jerusalem artichoke is going to be one of them.”

Via Ethanol Producer Magazine

High-Fructose Corn Syrup Truth, Get the Facts, HFCS

High fructose corn syrup is in the vast majority of all food products manufactured and distributed in the United States. This despite the fact that it has been proven to be addictive and a chief contributor to the epidemic of obesity.