After reading through several articles today that stated HFCS is safe and nutritionally equal to sugar, and comparing those sources with countless sources stating otherwise, I became angry; there are so many reasons to be angry about the high fructose corn syrup debate. While the side who claim it's safe does have some, albeit flimsy, sources to back themselves up; the opposing anti-HFCS side is stacked to the gills with proof.
One thing I noticed was that all the “HFCS is Safe” articles neglected to mention the fact that, while NUTRITIONALLY equal (I'm not going to dispute the nutritional facts), there are other issues when it comes to HFCS that are dangerous.
It's my opinion that the public doesn't understand the difference between "nutritionally safe" and "fundamentally safe". HFCS is fundamentally UNSAFE.
Heavy Use of High Fructose Corn Syrup
Nearly all junk food in the United States contains HFCS and people regularly ingest high amounts of it. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Statistics, the average American eats an amazing 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year. About 20 teaspoons of sugar a day, mostly from “hidden sugars”.
One can of soda equals about 10 ½ teaspoons of sugar, roughly an entire days worth of calories from added sugar, according to the USDA. 1
Between 1985 and 1999, U.S. consumption of sugars added to food items increased by 23 percent. 2 Considering the most popular (and cheapest) sugar added to processed foods then, and now, is high fructose corn syrup, it is not hard to understand how a society that sustains itself on so much junk food could be ingesting so much.
Corn is a heavily government subsidized crop in the United States, which makes it's production very cheap and in turn makes products created from it even cheaper. Cheaper ingredients in the production of junk food means cheaper junk food and higher profits (more people will buy it if it's cheap) for companies who don't really care about the health and welfare of the public, when they can lining their pockets with hefty profits. But that's just common sense.
Americans’ refined (white) sugar consumption has dropped over the past 20 years, according to studies. However, according to USDA figures, our consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has increased 250 percent over the past 15 years. 3
What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
First of all, what it isn't. HFCS is NOT a natural source of sugar. It is a sugar created by the chemical alteration of cornstarch which turns it into syrup. 4
Chemically it is known as isoglucose5 , street name(s) include maize syrup, glucose-fructose syrup in the UK, high fructose corn syrup in the U.S. and glucose/fructose6 in Canada
HFCS was created in the 1970's created by adding alpha-amylase, an enzyme derived from a bacteria, to cornstarch, which breaks it down. Once broken down, a second enzyme called glucoamylase (a derivative a fungus known as Aspergullis) is added. As it continues to ferment nearly pure glucose slurry is created.
During the third step, the glucose slurry is poured over columns containing an enzyme called glucose-isomerase. The result of this is a creation of a combination of fructose and glucose. Next liquid chromatography “distills” the syrup into 90% fructose, which is then blended back into the original mix to create the final product: a 55%/45% fructose/glucose product called high fructose corn syrup. 7
In release in March 2010 regarding a type liver disease called 'non-alcoholic fatty liver disease' , according to the American Chemical Society, was associated with high intakes of HFCS, which causes permanent liver damage.9
While the debate is still out (for the majority) on the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms, one cannot end without mentioning that the majority of HFCS is made from GMO corn. I have my own beliefs, standards and issues regarding GMO's: “Does this tomato smell fishy to you? Why I am not supportive of my tomato being “armed” with fish genes!” (TBA)
F or a great article on how to avoid GMO's visit: http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Genetically-Modified-Foods.
With all the evidence pointed towards the consumption of high fructose being unsafe, one can't help but think that all these doctors and nutritionists backing HFCS "safety" are in someones pocket...
*cough* The Corn Refiners Association *cough*...
It's all about personal responsibility and moderation. Each person gets to choose how they approach their health and diets. While High Fructose Corn Syrup may be one of the many culprits in the obesity epidemic in the United States. The real culprit of Americas expanding waistlines and increasingly poor health can really be summed up in one word: Gluttony.
- Get in the habit of reading food labels.
- Avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup or HFCS.
- Drink less soda. Choose fresh fruit rather than fruit juice or fruit-flavored drinks.
- Choose 100% juice over "all natural flavors" but don't forget that even juice contains large amounts of sugar, with no advantage of fiber; avoid “fruit drinks”.
- Choose canned fruits in own their own juice, instead of heavy syrup.
- Limit or avoid processed foods.
1. -----. “Profiling Food Consumption in America“ Agriculture Fact Book. 2000-2001
2. Haley, Stephen. Reed, Jane. Lin,Biing-Hwan. Cook, Annetta. “ Sweetener Consumption in the United States: Distribution by Demographic and Product Characteristics” .USDA Economic Research Service. 19 April 2005
3 Lempert, Phil. “
4 Warner, Melanie. “
5. ------. Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oxford University Press, 2006 (page 311)
6. -----. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
7. -----. “ What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?”. Wise Geek: Clear Answers for Common Questions
<http://www.healthobservatory.org/library.cfm?refid=105026> or < http://www.iatp.org/iatp/press.cfm?refID=105025>
9. -----. “ High fructose corn syrup: just another sugar?” CBC News. 22 April 2010
11. Parker, Hilary. “
12. 12.-----. “Mercury Poisining”. Medline Net. 23 March 2010 http://www.medicinenet.com/mercury_poisoning/page2.htm#effects
13. LeBlanc et al. “Formation of Hydroxymethylfurfural in Domestic High-Fructose Corn Syrup and Its Toxicity to the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)”. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009; 57 (16): 7369 DOI:10.1021/jf9014526
------------------------------------- Articles of Interest:
List Of Food Additives: Their Role In Healthy Eating http://www.mom-going-organic-sensibly.com/list-of-food-additives.html