While the glycemic index is a useful tool for predicting insulin response, it only provides a partial, incomplete picture of what’s going on with HFCS because the glycemic index doesn’t register or measure fructose. Consequently, foods made with HFCS can have a relatively low glycemic index because the 55% fructose in the HFCS recipe is ignored. This creates the false and misleading impression that fructose is healthier than sugar and that it’s okay for diabetics.
It’s important to understand that fructose and glucose metabolize differently. Glucose goes directly into the blood stream where it’s converted to blood sugar, and fructose goes directly into the liver where it’s converted to trigylcerides. A triglyceride is a liquid form of fat. So when you eat or drink foods made with HFCS, 55% is converted to fat molecules.
The fat floats around in your bloodstream, gets deposited in your fat cells, and attaches to your blood vessels to form plaques. This action all goes relatively unnoticed, however, because fructose is under the radar, so to speak. Even more, triglyceride production accelerates when massive amounts of fructose are consumed over a long period of time. And lastly, high triglyceride levels have also been shown to drag up total cholesterol levels.
Here are the current guidelines for triglyceride levels, which are measured by taking a blood test:
Normal is less than 150
Borderline high is 150 to 199
High is 200 to 499
Very high is 500 or greater
It seems illogical and contrary that a fat-free food like HFCS can have such a big impact on fat production, but this is exactly what happens in your body. The technical term is “carbohydrate induced lipemia,” which is an excessive amount of fat in the blood from carbohydrates. Yet dietary fat continues to take the rap as the root cause of obesity and disease. In fact, our culture is so obsessively fat phobic, no one thinks it’s healthy to put a pat of butter on their veggies, but everyone happily slugs down yogurt made with HFCS as a primary ingredient.
Between 1976 and 1980, before experts started telling us to stop eating fat, one out of every three was overweight. The national obesity rate was around 13% and the national overweight rate was around 30%. During the next 30 years the average national fat consumption dropped from 40% to 34%, a huge, statistically significant change, but now two out of every three are overweight.