To print: Select File and then Print from your browser's menu
High-Fructose Corn Syrup: The Controversy Continues
May 12, 2008
Last week (in "A Foray Into Fructose"), we learned how fructose, or fruit sugar, may be linked to certain health conditions, such as high lipid levels, gout, kidney stones, and irritable bowel syndrome. What we haven’t looked at yet, but will this week, is a substance that has just about as bad a reputation as trans fat, or pesticides, or even global warming: high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS, for short).
HFCS was introduced into the American diet back in the 1970’s. As its name implies, this sweetener is made from corn, and is made up of varying amounts of fructose, depending on whether it’s used in, say, soft drinks or baked goods. HFCS is similar in sweetness to sucrose (table sugar), making it a good choice for food manufacturers.
You may be wondering why a food manufacturer would use HFCS over regular sugar. Well, there are several reasons for this:
So why is a pretty innocuous-sounding substance at the source of so much controversy?
HFCS and Obesity
No one’s arguing that HFCS is a source of additional, empty calories in the diet and that we need to cut down on our intake. About half of the added sugar intake of the average American comes from HFCS. And soft drink intake has significantly increased over the past 50 years. What’s the main ingredient in soft drinks? HFCS. Therefore, with obesity rates climbing, and soft drink intake climbing, it’s not too hard to see how the two might be linked. However, the catch is that no good research has been done proving that HFCS somehow alters metabolism to increase appetite and promote fat storage.
The causes of obesity are complex and likely multifold. It would be easier if we could just point the finger at consuming too much HFCS, or too much fat, or our inactive lifestyles. Those are very likely culprits, but they aren’t the only ones. At this point, there isn’t enough credible evidence that HFCS is a cause of obesity.
HFCS and Diabetes
You can imagine that the American Beverage Association, the Corn Refiners Association, and other food industry members have hotly disputed all the so-called “evidence” that HFCS causes health problems. While the evidence may not yet be strong enough to truly support claims of obesity and diabetes, it’s a wise idea to go easy on foods that contain HFCS. Here’s a partial list of foods to be wary of:
As always, read food labels and find out, in addition to carb and fat grams, what kinds of ingredients are in your food. Try to choose foods that are as unrefined as possible, as often as possible. Your body will thank you.
Disclaimer of Medical Advice:You understand that the blogs posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents, bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind and you should not rely on any information contained on such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs. The opinions and other information contained in the blog posts and comments do not reflect the opinions or positions of the Site Proprietor.