High Fructose Corn Syrup and Cholesterol Connection This evening on 60 Minutes (CBS) I saw that it has been shown that high fructose corn syrup raises LDL cholelsterol.  Researcher Kimber Stanhope of UC Davis is in the midst of a long term study on the effect of sugar, specifically, high fructose corn syrup on the health of young healthy people.  The real shock is that the unhealthy state of affairs is induced inside of two weeks.

The subjects in the study were isolated and fed a very controlled diet, controlled their activity levels, sleep, etc.  So with all factors being equal, 1/4 of the calories of the diets of young healthy people were substituted by high fructose corn syrup such as that found in sodas and sugary drinks.  This means the subjects did not gain weight from their diets.

Within two weeks, their ldl cholesterol and triglyceride levels had climbed.   The mechanism appears to be over taxing of the liver with the fructose, leading to dysfunction.

In Dr. Stanhope’s words:

By providing substrate for hepatic lipogenesis, fructose may result in a direct lipid overload that leads to triglyceride accumulation, novel protein kinase C activation, and hepatic insulin resistance.   See original article at the journal Lipidology

Further issues with sugars include a connection to cancer growths.  The connection of obesity to cancer has been established.  But also those with diabetes.  Dr. Lewis Cantley, from Harvard, has discovered an important enzyme responsible for cancer growth.  It is connected to insulin.  Cancer cells have insulin receptors which help the cancer draw off the excess blood sugar to it to help in its explosive growth.

At the focal point of this convergence of chronic diseases is an enzyme known as phosphoinositide 3-kinase, or PI3K, discovered by the Harvard Medical School’s Lewis Cantley and his colleagues in the mid-1980s. The PI3K pathway is both the mechanism through which insulin regulates blood sugar and a major player in perhaps 80% of all human cancers.  Original article at Science Watch.

Dr. Robert Lustig of the University of California goes one step further and lumps ALL sugars into the same “toxic” label. He believes that high fructose corn syrup and regular cane syrup, maple syrup and honey are the same. High fructose corn syrup is not found in nature, period. It is manufactured.

However he has become quite a spokesperson for banning sugar from our diets:

Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public [7/2009] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 16717]

A couple of decades back, we were told to cut back on fats to help reduce the high incidence of heard disease, stroke risk, etc. Foods without fat taste bland, and sugar replaced the fat. And now for the first time, the life expectancies are starting to decline and we are fatter as a nation than ever before. Hmmmmm. It seems that fat wasn’t the problem. And now, it’s not carbs, but sugar.

My own take on this is that it’s the wrong kind of fat: deep fried foods, processed foods, non-organic beef, processed meats have all been shown to be detrimental to our health. And likewise, processed sugars, highly refined products such as flours stripped of their nutrients, corn chips, potato chips, etc. Instead of sugar, move to natural fruit, not juice, but the fruit, where the flesh slows the ingestion of sugar. Instead of processed fats, move to raw nuts and nut butters, avocado, olive oil, cod liver oil, organic butter and other organic dairy products. Even organic steak and eggs contain healthy fats.

So, not only does high fructose corn syrup raise cholesterol, it causes a whole host of other problems. Being aware of these connections should help you make better choices for your health.