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How Does High Fructose Corn Syrup Affect Body?

by
author image Cydney Walker
Cydney Walker is a registered dietitian and personal trainer who began writing about nutrition and exercise during her dietetic internship in 2000. She has been featured in "Voices" and by the National Medical Association for her HIV research. She earned her master's degree in human sciences from Texas A&M University in Kingsville.
How Does High Fructose Corn Syrup Affect Body?
Corn is concentrated into high-fructose corn syrup. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

High-fructose corn syrup is fructose produced from corn and concentrated for use as a sweetener for such commercially made food items as fruit-flavored drinks, carbonated beverages, baked goods and spaghetti sauce. High-fructose corn syrup is close to naturally occurring fructose found in fruits and vegetables, but this sweetener is slightly higher in fructose. In addition, the fructose is "free," meaning it is not bound to glucose the way it is found in nature.

Increased Appetite

High-fructose corn syrup does not stimulate insulin secretion from your pancreas, so it doesn't help to regulate your appetite. Insulin helps your brain recognize your blood sugar level has increased, signaling to your brain to tell you to stop eating, according to Dr. Dana Flavin with "Life Extension" magazine. The free fructose in high-fructose corn syrup goes straight to your liver for processing.

Higher Insulin Levels

Long-term consumption of fructose leads to hyperinsulinemia, or high insulin levels, and obesity, according to a 2005 review of current research by Heather Basciano and colleagues published in the journal "Nutrition and Metabolism." Elevated fructose levels decrease insulin receptor activity in muscles and the liver. This decrease may lead to your body using less glucose because it becomes overwhelmed when fed foods that raise glucose levels. Therefore, your body produces more insulin to lower glucose levels.

High Blood Pressure

High-fructose corn syrup may contribute to high blood pressure by weakening your blood vessels' ability to expand, according to Flavin. Nitric oxide is a gas that signals your blood vessels to relax and allow your blood to flow through your veins. Excessive levels of fructose in the blood decrease nitric oxide. The lower level of nitric oxide decreases your blood vessels' ability to relax, causing increased pressure buildup in your blood vessels, contributing to high blood pressure readings.

Cholesterol and Triglycerides

High-fructose corn syrup leads to increased production of very-low-density cholesterol, or VLDL, and triglycerides. Your liver metabolizes fructose. When excessive amounts are consumed, your liver tries to handle the load by making cholesterol and triglycerides. Increased production of cholesterol leads to increased fatty deposits in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease, according to Flavin.

Advanced Glycation End Products

Advanced glycation end products result from excess glucose in the blood combining with fats in your blood. Fructose stimulates these end products faster and increases inflammation in the body because fructose is more reactive with fats in your blood, according to Flavin. Even small amounts of fructose in the blood promote advanced glycation end products faster, which can contribute to increased collection of glycation end products on your body tissues. Advanced glycation end products are detrimental to your body because they promote aging, inflammation and possibly increase your risk of high blood pressure by damaging artery walls.

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