It seems that everybody is talking about the evils of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). But what is fact and what is simply hearsay? Here we will give all the facts about HFCS.
What, exactly, is HFCS?
High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener and preservative. HFCS is made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose – another form of sugar. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose. Because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar, high-fructose corn syrup has become a popular ingredient in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and other processed foods.
Is HFCS an artificial sweetener or made from chemicals?
No. A little less than one year ago, on July 08, 2008, the FDA clarified that HFCS can be labeled as a natural product. To be classified as natural, a food product must be made from an all-natural product and contain no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives.
How does HFCS compare to table sugar?
HFCS and sugar are virtually interchangeable! They have the same sweetness and composition. Contrary to its name, HFCS does not contain a lot of fructose. The ratio of fructose and glucose in HFCS and table sugar is practically the same. The human body cannot tell the difference between HFCS and sugar. High fructose corn syrup does not provide a sensation of increased or decreased fullness nor is it metabolized differently in the body.
Is HFCS responsible for the obesity epidemic?
Everybody wants to find the root of our country’s obesity epidemic. Many people have blamed HFCS. According the Mayo Clinic, HFCS is NOT to blame!
Statement from the Mayo Clinic:
So far, research has yielded conflicting results about the effects of high-fructose corn syrup. For example, various early studies showed an association between increased consumption of sweetened beverages (many of which contained high-fructose corn syrup) and obesity. But recent research – some of which is supported by the beverage industry – suggests that high-fructose corn syrup isn’t intrinsically less healthy than other sweeteners, nor is it the root cause of obesity.
HFCS itself does not increase the risk of obesity. Obesity is caused by taking in more calories than you burn. Many foods containing HFCS have lots of calories. Therefore, if you eat a lot of these foods, you will gain weight. Sugar is no different. If you eat too much sugar, you will gain weight. HFCS is no more likely to cause weight gain than regular sugar.
Does HFCS have more calories than regular sugar?
No! Both HFCS and sugar have four calories per gram. HFCS should not alarm you more than other sugars.
How else does HFCS affect the foods we eat?
High fructose corn syrup doesn’t simply sweeten food, it enhances and balances its flavors. For example, HFCS in yogurt enhances the fruit and spice flavors and regulates the yogurt’s tartness. HFCS acts similarly in foods such as tomato sauces and other condiments. In beverages, HFCS provides stability and helps keep flavors constant throughout the product’s shelf life.
If you are concerned about the amount of HFCS in your family’s diet, consider these tips:
1) Limit the processed foods you keep in the house.
2) Avoid foods that contain a large amount of added sugar, in any form.
3) Choose real fruit over fruit juice or fruit-flavored drinks. Even 100 percent fruit juices contain a large amount of sugar.
4) Avoid soda and other sweetened beverages!
The bottom line: There is no nutritional difference between HFCS and sugar. They contain the same number of calories and are made up of the same ratio of glucose and fructose. All forms of sugar will cause weight gain if eaten in abundance. Limit all forms of sugar to ensure a healthy diet!