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High Fructose Corn Syrup May Increase Levels of Bad Cholesterol

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener derived from corn syrup that is commonly used to sweeten processed foods, soft drinks, and fruit-flavored beverages. A new study has found that the combination of glucose and fructose in HCFS may increase levels of LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein.

Participants in the study included 145 adults. They consumed beverages sweetened with aspartame (control), glucose, fructose, or high fructose corn syrup 3 times daily for 2 weeks. The groups were matched for sex, baseline BMI, and plasma lipid/lipoprotein concentrations. Blood samples were taken at baseline and at the end of the study period and were used to measure triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and apolipoprotein levels.

The researchers found that increases in LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein were highest during HFCS consumption compared to aspartame consumption. During fructose consumption, increases in LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein were higher than during aspartame consumption but not as high as during HFCS consumption. High levels of apolipoprotein may indicate an increase in the risk of heart disease.

The increase in 24-hour triglyceride levels was highest during fructose consumption, intermediate during HFCS consumption, and lowest during glucose consumption, compared to aspartame consumption.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of California, Davis. It was published online ahead of print on September 8, 2020 in the journal Metabolism.

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