The Anatomy of High-Fructose Corn Syrup
High-Fructose Corn Syrup has been a topic of hot debate amongst health intellectuals and nutritionists. Correlations between High-Fructose Corn Syrup and obesity, as well as the difference between HFCS in liquids versus its solid form have been established.
The Corn Refiners Association has been instrumental as well as vocal in advocating that there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to High Fructose Corn Syrup. Research has been conducted to find out if whatever health guru’s really say about the futility of corn syrup is true or not.
So how is corn fructose syrup different from the regular sweet sugar that is used for daily purposes and why do nutrition experts label it as unhealthy? The sugar that’s used for everyday use is a combination of fructose and glucose, a combination which is known as sucrose and is naturally produced by plants.
Corn Syrup is a syrup produced from corn starch. Corn does not contain any naturally occurring fructose in it. But during the mid 1950s, scientists came across a way to convert the naturally occurring glucose in corn into fructose. The result was a product that was incredibly sweet. The product was then mixed with plain corn syrup and glucose until a 55/45 [fructose/glucose] balance was reached, where the fructose content was a majority. This is the story of the birth of High Fructose Corn Syrup.
Many have wondered why HFCS was so attractive and popular in the food industry.
Here Are Three Reasons:
First, corn syrup is very cheap. A dry pound of Corn Syrup didn’t cost more than 32 cents back in 2007, where a similar quantity of refined sugar cost 52 cents. The less expensive nature of Corn Syrup has resulted in it being used by the food industry in order to keep the costs down. Secondly, corn syrup dissolves easily in liquid and makes it a very attractive choice for the beverage industry.
Every year, it’s becoming difficult to find drinks that don’t use HFCS as a major ingredient during their manufacturing process. The third reason it’s so popular with the food industry is because it acts as a preservative which increases the life of whatever product it’s being used for. It also reduces the necessity of other preservatives. From the viewpoint of the food industry, corn syrup is nothing short of a miraculous product. It is cheaper and sweeter than ordinary sugar and acts as a preservative.
The concerns regarding the anatomy of High Fructose Corn Syrup and the results of its usage are mainly centered upon two primary facts. The first major concern is the use of mercury, caustic soda and hydrochloric acid used during processing. Tests conducted in 2005 found that 1/3rd of HFCS products contained mercury [A more recent study in 2009 found that 1/2 of HFCS products contained mercury]. The other major concern is its contribution towards obesity. Many experts believe that because corn syrup contains more fructose than ordinary sugar, it’s become one of the leading causes of obesity. Regardless, it remains a major area of interest in the food industry.
What Are Your Thoughts about High-Fructose Corn Syrup?
[box type="note"]Editor’s note: Fructose is believed to be more potently lipogenic than glucose. Recently, several researchers have pointed out that the link between fructose and obesity is based on epidemiological studies which don’t establish a cause and effect relationship. Others have attributed the obesity epidemic to the rising use of HFCS.
While both sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup contain the monosaccharides glucose and fructose–they exist in free in solutions of HFCS, but are found in disaccharide form in sucrose. Regardless of whether or not high-fructose is potentially a greater contributor to obesity than sucrose (table sugar), limiting both types of sweeteners which are empty calories is certainly a good idea.[/box]