High-fructose corn syrup may modify memory

By Cheryl Gamachi

High-fructose corn syrup is linked with problems like weight gain, dental cavities, poor nutrition and now memory and learning abilities from a study published Tuesday, L’Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. (Read the story here.)

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles formed two groups of rats and substituted their water with a solution containing High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). One group was given Omega-3 fatty acids with brain-boosting qualities while the other wasn’t.

The rats were trained to go through a maze for five days, said AFP. It was found after six weeks the group of rats that were not given the fatty acids were slower.

“Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier,” said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“High-fructose corn syrup is the most common added sweetener in processed foods and beverages,” according to Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D.,L.D.

“Eating a high-fructose syrup diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information,” said Gomez-Pinilla. “But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage,” according to LiveScience.

In 1977, a system of sugar tariffs imposed in the U.S. increase the cost of imported sugar. Producers were forced to find cheaper sources hence, HFCS. Domestic U.S. prices of sugar are twice the global price while corn costs were consistently low.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the average American consumes more than 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year, according to the Tucson Sentinel.

HFCS first began in the food industry in the late 1970s which is when many Americans started gaining weight in the wrong places. The production process was made by Dr. Yoshiyuki Takasaki at the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology of Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan. HFCS was then introduced to processed foods and soft drinks in the U.S. and is still making a boom in today’s products.

Nelson advises Americans to cut back on high-fructose corn syrup by:

  1. Avoid sugary, non-diet sodas. Drink water or other unsweetened beverages instead.
  2. Don’t eat breakfast cereals that contain non-nutritious, sugary and frosted cereals.
  3. Eat fewer processed and packaged foods like cookies, cakes and come microwaveable meals.
  4. Snack on fruit, vegetables and low-fat cheese instead of candy and pastries.
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