Soybean Oil and High Fructose Corn Syrup: Double Trouble

Patient Expert

We have been here before, and we are going here again. I do not feel too much emphasis can be placed on the dangers of processed foods.

The adage of "it seemed like a good idea at the time" may or may not be appropriate regarding the advent of processed food. I suppose it depends on your perspective about intent although it doesn't really matter at this point. Good idea at the time or not, that time is past. Processed foods are no longer the rave. As a matter of fact, there is a consensus that processed foods contain additives that can be harmful and sometimes life-threatening.

Foods are processed to kill microorganisms and extend shelf life. Although processing is important for food safety and storage, nutrients and vitamins are lost during each step of the processing. This results in the removal of 50-80% of nutrients. Artificial additives also are often used to extend the shelf life of these products.

Countries that consume a great deal of processed foods like breads, cereals, and sugary or fatty foods are subject to diseases like cancer, obesity, diabetes, celiac, and cardiovascular disease.

Soybean Oil

Soybean oil is found in almost all processed foods. Perhaps the main problem with genetically-engineered hydrogenated soybean oil is the trans fat that it contains. About 65% of edible oils are soybean oils and about half of them are hydrogenated.

Hydrogenated oils are made by forcing hydrogen gas into the oil at high pressure. This process changes the chemical composition of essential fatty acids and alters them in a way that promotes adverse health issues. The trans fats in these oils have been linked to interfering with enzymes that are used by your body to combat cancer. They also interfere with insulin receptors in cell membranes, decrease immune function, and interfere with enzymes that are needed to produce sex hormones.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup is popular because it costs less than sucrose, is as sweet as invert liquid sugar, retains moisture and does not dry out, and it blends easily with other sweeteners and flavorings.  The health challenges are another story.

High fructose corn syrup contributes to weight gain and obesity. Weight gain revolves around the principle of caloric intake (calories consumed through food and drink) and caloric expenditure (calories burned through daily activities and exercise).

Exercise has decreased substantially in the last 50 years while soft drink consumption has increased to the degree that it has replaced water as the beverage of choice. On average, one serving of soda has 120 calories whereas water has 0.

High fructose corn syrup also contributes to diabetes. Insulin controls the release of the hormone leptin which is important in weight gain. A high fructose diet interferes with insulin which reduces leptin which stimulates fat storage.

High fructose corn syrup also has been linked to hypertension by inhibiting an important enzyme that helps to prevent blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and erectile dysfunction.

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