HFCS: Yes or No?

19 March 2009

Most people just want to know if a product is "safe." Once a "yes" or "no" is given then they move ahead with their decision. We are doing ourselves, and our families, a huge disservice by not being informed consumers. Even I, a research geek, realizes that I cannot be on top of everything or research everything, but when something is brought to my attention that my family uses or is exposed to then I'm going to look into it.

I wonder how effective the recent commercials being released from the Corn Grower's Association telling people that high fructose corn syrup is natural, made from corn, and fine in moderation have been. Since the release of the commercials I have had more people ask me my opinion, and have been sent more interesting emails about HFCS then I ever have before. Facebook notes have been posted, and funny spoof videos have been released.

For your enjoyment:

Debunking the Myths:

1. Myth: HFCS is natural.

High fructose corn syrup is processed using artificial ingredients. In order for a product to be deemed "natural" from the FDA it cannot have anything artificial added to the final product. The way HFCS manufacturers get around this is that the actual corn starch does not come in contact with additives (such as glutaraldehyde); however, because the corn starch does not come in contact with the chemicals it is considered safe. These practices are one of the reasons that many of the "natural" labels are scoffed at by consumers.

Article: Mercury Found in High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

2. Myth: It's fine in moderation.

HFCS has become ubiquitous. It is in breads, soups, condiments, cereals, juices, baby food, and the list goes on. It is incredibly difficult to eat high fructose corn syrup in moderation, and in 2007 the average American consumed 56 pounds of high fructose corn syrup.

Article: CBS News Reports - Sweetener Controversy Grows

3. Myth: It is the same as sugar.

Notice how the first word is "High." High fructose equals less insulin production which leads to diabetes. The body uses fructose occurring in nutritionally dense fruit, but modified high fructose corn syrup is a very different thing. HFCS has unbound glucose and fructose molecules. This can lead to diabetes; furthermore, high levels of fructose from the simple carb cannot be absorbed elsewhere so they are absorbed by fat cells.

From the above diabetes article:

"Reactive carbonyls, which have been linked to tissue damage and complications of diabetes, are elevated in the blood of people with diabetes. A single can of soda, however, has five times that concentration of reactive carbonyls. Old-fashioned table sugar, on the other hand, has no reactive carbonyls because its fructose and glucose molecules are "bound" and therefore stable, unlike the "unbound" molecules of HFCS."


tetech said...

Thanks for the life-saving info! My nephew is studying Pharmacology at UCSD and has switched from Soda to Orange Juice!
I got a reply from Coke on reactive carbonyls, and they say that Coke is so acidic that it inverts sucrose and makes it get reactive carbonyls like the HFCS (mostly from the carbonation). They even wrote that they found reactive carbonyls in their diet Coke (perhaps from the carmel coloring)! They refused to say the quantities, I suspect it is much less than in Classic HFCS Coke.
I recently read that diet sodas have Benzine and they don't know why.

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