Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup, Exactly?

Because of the obesity epidemic, we in the United States have been hearing a lot about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) lately. It's been getting a lot of press, mostly bad. It seems that some people think it's some sort of Frankenfood that will eat a hole in your stomach and cause you to hallucinate dancing babies. Well, not really, but you get the point. But what is it, exactly? How is it made? Is it something artificial? Is it bad for you (or, worse than other sweeteners)? Most importantly, is it safe for your kids?  Here are some basic facts. 

Like its name suggests, HFCS is a sweetener that comes from corn rather than sugar cane or honey. However, because of government subsidies on corn, it's much cheaper for manufacturers to use.

HFCS has the same sweeteners-fructose and glucose-found in sugar, has the same number of calories (4 per gram) and is processed in much the same way. In other words, it's no more 'artificial' or 'commercialized' than sugar.

The main reason it has been blamed for the obesity epidemic in many countries is because it came on the scene in the 1970s, which happened to be the time that obesity rates started to rise. Studies done by the American Medical Association and other groups, however, have found that it's no more responsible for obesity (or Type 2 diabetes, for that matter) than any other kind of sugar. When you consider that other countries such as Canada or Australia have also experienced growth in obesity rates but do not consume anywhere near the amount of HFCS we do, this makes sense.

The corn HFCS comes from is not genetically altered to produce it.

Contrary to common-but-kind-of-strange rumor, HFCS does not cause ADD or ADHD. Too bad, because if it did you'd be able to 'combat' it simply by cutting down on the sugar your kids eat or drink. That would be much less expensive than doctors and drugs, wouldn't it? If only it were that easy.

Its effect on the body's ability to tell when you're 'full' is no different in HFCS than that of sugar. Since it has the same sweeteners in roughly the same ratios as sugar (55%-45% fructose and glucose v. 50-50 in sugar), your body cannot tell the difference between them. Sugar is sugar is sugar.

The increase in rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes comes from lifestyles of eating more processed 'junk' foods and exercising less more than anything else. Having yourself and your kids cut down on sugary foods in general can help in this way, not necessarily avoiding HFCS.

And finally-

If one of your friends starts freaking out about HFCS, have you ever asked them what's wrong with it and why? I've never actually gotten an answer, although it's fun to watch some people squirm. I get a similar kick out of debates about what was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, but that's just me.

That's all I have for you today! For more information, check out and

1 comment:

  1. What people don't know about high fructose corn syrup is, it is processed and didn't come from real fruits. Not only that. It is bad because we are consuming too much of it. If we can lessen our fructose intake, that would be good for us. But, if you look at the foods we buy, you'll see fructose on it. Most foods we buy now has fructose that's why we consume too much of it and that is bad for our health.