High fructose corn syrup

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High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an sweetener that is made from corn syrups by enzymatically converting some of corn syrup's glucose into a sweeter tasting carbohydrate called fructose. The resulting syrup is comprised of 42 to 55 percent fructose, the remained being mostly glucose and some other sugars.[1] High fructose corn syrup is used in many foods and has a sweetness roughly comparable to sucrose (common table sugar), but is cheaper and easier to transport than sucrose. High fructose corn syrup is not an "artificial sweetener" like saccharin (i.e. Sweet&LowTM), meaning that it does possess a significant caloric value and is metabolized by the human body similar to common table sugar.

Controversy

Arguments for

Because high fructose corn syrup is slightly less sweet tasting than table sugar, slightly more high fructose corn syrup must be used in food preparation to attain the same level of sweetness that sucrose would otherwise yield. Thus, foods prepared using high fructose corn syrup rather than sucrose tend to have more dietary calories and are considered "less healthy" based on this fact alone (see obesity). The toxicity level (i.e. the LD50) of high fructose corn syrup is equivalent to that of common table sugar.

Arguments against

Some try to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup, simply because of its taste. This is especially true for some soda drinkers, who go to great lengths to acquire sugar-sweetened soda fro other countries which to not accept this sweetener, like Mexico. While the taste difference may be a valid argument, the greater Controversy is in regard to the health impact of this substance. There have been some growing concerns over this sweetener as research continues. As it turns out, HFCS is not recognized by the human body as sugar, but is processed differently. It is also suspected to cause Type-2 diabetes.[2] Studies have also shown that HFCS can cause scarring to the liver.[3] Yet another concern is that some High Fructose Corn Syrup contains mercury.[4] Yet one more reason some avoid this product is because the majority of corn products from the U.S. are genetically modified.[5] Yet another concern often overlooked is that a very high percentage (some say over 90%) of the corn produced in the United States is genetically modified. This factor adds the potential dangers of artificial genetic modification to this product.

So why do companies still use High Fructose Corn Syrup? For one thing, it is inexpensive—HFCS is cheaper to use than cane sugar. For another reason, HFCS is somewhat addictive.[6] The evidence continues to pile up, and so do the protests against this substance. In some countries, it is illegal to sell products containing it. In Mexico, for example, soda is made with pure cane sugar. (This is also why some say that foreign Coke® tastes better than domestically purchased Coke®.)

Sugar is sugar campaign

The public has become increasingly concerned over the health risks of High Fructose Corn Syrup. It has become increasingly suspected that this sweetener causes obesity, diabetes, and several other health problems such as liver damage more than an equal quantity of sucrose. As public concerns have increased over the negative health implications of high fructose corn syrup, manufacturers have begun to petition the FDA to allow the renaming of high fructose corn syrup as "corn sugar". The tagline used by manufacturers in recent "corn sugar" ads aiming to highlight the safety and wholesomeness of high fructose corn syrup is that "sugar is sugar", implying the lack of any difference between high fructose corn syrup and table sugar. Meanwhile, an advertizement campaign was started which stated that "sugar is sugar." This well-funded advertizement series generally featured a parent stating that he/she was formerly concerned about Corn Syrup/High Fructose Corn Syrup, but has found that there is no real difference between it and cane sugar.[7] Television advertizements usually showed the parent in or near a corn field, to also push to unstated idea that it must be healthy and natural. Printed advertizements vary more in presentation.

References

  1. What is HFCS?, HFCSfacts.com
  2. Hyman, Mark. "The Not-So-Sweet Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 13 May 2011. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/high-fructose-corn-syrup-dangers_b_861913.html>.
  3. Duke University Medical Center. High fructose corn syrup linked to liver scarring, research suggests. ScienceDaily. 23 Mar. 2010.
  4. Dufault R, LeBlanc B, Schnoll R, Cornett C, Schweitzer L, Wallinga D, Hightower J, Patrick L, Lukiw WJ. Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar. Environ Health. 2009 Jan 26;8:2. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-8-2.
  5. "About Genetically Modified Crops in the US." Nestle USA. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <http://www.nestleusa.com/nutrition/about-our-foods-and-beverages/about-genetically-modified-crops-in-the-us>.
  6. "Addiction to Unhealthy Foods Could Help Explain the Global Obesity Epidemic." EurekAlert! Canadian Association for Neuroscience, 22 May 2013. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-05/cafn-atu051613.php>.
  7. http://www.nola.com/health/index.ssf/2011/09/corn_syrups_sugar_is_sugar_cam.html