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Healthy Choices

Which Sugar Causes You To
Gain The Most Weight?

By Liat Golan, RD, LD/N

Corn Syrup -- it's absolutely everywhere.
And it is making you fat!

What Is "High-Fructose Corn Syrup"? 

It is a common ingredient in many foods we all eat. This type of sweetener is very commonly used because it is inexpensive to make. Despite the natural-sounding ring of fructose, HFCS does not come from fruit. Instead, it's a highly purified blend of sugars (typically 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose) derived from corn. Because the fructose in HFCS is part of a manmade blend (as opposed to the natural compound of sugars found in fruit), the body metabolizes it very differently from other sugars.

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. 

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

Does High Fructose Corn Syrup Have Any Other Names?

High fructose corn syrup can also be found in foods under an assumed identity. With the recent bad press this particular sweetener has been receiving, manufacturers are adding it to their foods, but calling it by other names. If you're looking at labels and you want to make sure HFCS is not in your foods, look for these names as well:

  • Maize syrup
  • Glucose/fructose syrup
  • Tapioca syrup
  • Dahlia syrup
  • Fruit fructose
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Corn Sugar

How Does High Fructose Corn Syrup Affect Your Appetite?

Your digestive system has two main hormones that control hunger and appetite. Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and increases your appetite. When your stomach's empty, it sends ghrelin out, requesting food. Leptin tells your brain that you're full. HFCS slows down leptin secretion, so you never get the message that you're full. And HFCS never shuts off ghrelin, so even though you have food in your stomach, you constantly get the message that you're hungry.


Start reading labels and see if you can cut back on the 63 pounds of HFCS most people consume each year.

Few "health" Food products that contain HFCS

HFCS is in loads of products you'd never even think about because they're not terribly sweet! Things like ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, breakfast bars, jellies, yogurts, and peanut butters. Even fat-free or low-fat foods, like salad dressing are often loaded with HFCS. Here is an example of a few "health" foods that are loaded with it:   

  • Yoplait Yogurt- Every variety of Yoplait contains HFCS! 
  • Salad Dressing- Most salad dressings contain corn syrup, but "lite" and "reduced calorie" versions are brimming with it.  Make your own dressings at home from garlic, herbs, lemon juice, olive oil or balsamic vinegar.  
  • "Smart" Ice Cream Sandwiches- Many of the low-calorie ice cream treats are packed with upwards of 20 grams of this nutritionally deficient sweetener.
  • Special K- Made from processed grains, gums and sugars, there's nothing smart about cereal for breakfast, no matter how special it may be.
  • Cereals with the Heart Healthy Claims- Many breakfast cereals are loaded with sugars and processed ingredients, but because they have a few grams of fiber or are low in fat, they are promoted as health foods. Just steer clear of the middle aisles, period. 
  • Whole Grain and Whole wheat breads- Most of these items contain HFCS,


About The Author

Liat Golan, RD, LD/N is a Registered Dietitian and Florida Sate Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist. For several years, Liat has counseled individuals to manage their weight and various health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, digestive disorders and hypertension. She has extensive experience educating both individuals and groups on nutritional wellness and helping clients create individually tailored and realistic nutrition and lifestyle programs to meet their unique needs during various life stages including pregnancy and lactation.

Liat passionately believes in using the power of food to prevent and manage illness and maintain optimal health. She helps people make realistic and gradual changes to their current eating habits and food choices.

Education and Credentials:

  • Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida International University
  • Registered Dietitian (R.D.)
  • Florida State Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LD/N.
  • Certificate in Adult Weight Management through the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • American Dietetic Association and Florida State Dietetic Association active member
  • American Dietetic Association Sports Nutritionist (SCAN) and Nutrition in Complementary Care (NCC) practice groups active member
  • American Dietetic Association Sports Nutritionist (SCAN) and Nutrition in Complementary Care (NCC) practice groups active member

Visit Liat on her webstie website at Bee Well Nutrition, on Facebook, or contact her at: 727-735-4473

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