Monday, May 15, 2006
More HFCS tidbits
I was not aware that HFCS was relatively new, and I have been surprised to learn, though reading reports about the WTO litigation about the industry, that it is taking over the sugar market in the US and other countries. Here is an interesting summary from the Washington Post reviewing the relationship between sugars, insulin and sweetener production:
"For example, consumption of glucose kicks off a cascade of biochemical reactions. It increases production of insulin by the pancreas, which enables sugar in the blood to be transported into cells, where it can be used for energy. It increases production of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate appetite and fat storage, and it suppresses production of another hormone made by the stomach, ghrelin, that helps regulate food intake. It has been theorized that when ghrelin levels drop, as they do after eating carbohydrates composed of glucose, hunger declines.
Fructose is a different story. It "appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation," explains Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. "Fructose doesn't stimulate insulin secretion. It doesn't increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin. That suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat, could contribute to weight gain." Whether it actually does do this is not known "because the studies have not been conducted," said Havel.
Another concern is the action of fructose in the liver, where it is converted into the chemical backbone of trigylcerides more efficiently than glucose. Like low-density lipoprotein -- the most damaging form of cholesterol -- elevated levels of trigylcerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. A University of Minnesota study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000 found that in men, but not in women, fructose "produced significantly higher [blood] levels" than did glucose. The researchers, led by J.P Bantle, concluded that "diets high in added fructose may be undesirable, particularly for men."
Friday, May 12, 2006
NY Times Op-Ed about Subsidies and Health...
"The question is, how did energy-dense foods become so much cheaper in the supermarket than they are in the state of nature? This is not a function of the free market. It is very simply a function of government policy: our farm policies subsidize the most energy-dense and least healthy calories in the supermarket. We write checks to farmers for every bushel of corn and soy they can grow, and partly as a result they grow vast quantities of the stuff, driving down the cost of the processed foods we make from those commodities. In effect, we’re subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup. And we’re not subsidizing the growing of carrots and broccoli. Put another way, our tax dollars are the reason that the cheapest calories in the market are the least healthy ones.
That situation is a public problem and can be addressed only through public action — by rewriting the rules of the game by which we eat. We need farm policies that will somehow right this imbalance, so that healthy calories can compete with unhealthy ones — so that it becomes rational for someone with little to spend on food to buy the carrots instead of the cookies, the orange juice instead of the Sprite. Until that happens, eating well will remain “elitist." Michael Pollan