What exactly is the big deal with High Fructose Corn Syrup?

If you have any doubt about how I feel about HFCS check out my update on HFCS.

High Fructose Corn Syrup suddenly became a bad word in the food industry. People don’t want to buy anything that has HFCS as an ingredient but what I’ve never been able to understand is why? The Corn Refiners Association has launched a campaign to educate the public about HFCS and to dispel common sugar myths that stem from the misperception that HFCS is high in fructose.To see the sugar content of certain foods, visit: http://www.collectivewizdom.com. I had the opportunity to work with Mom Central and be apart of a HFCS Blog Tour. Those of us that participated were able to listen to experts in nutrition and eating healthy discuss what has everyone riled up about HFCS.

cornThe Experts:

John White, Ph.D. President White Technical Research: Dr. White is one of the foremost experts in high fructose corn syrup, the result of 29 years of research of this sweetener.

James M. Rippe, M.D. Professor of Biomedical Sciences University of Central Florida and Founder and Director Rippe Lifestyle Institute. Sr. Rippe is one of the leading authorities on preventitive cardiology, health and fitness and healthy weight loss in the United States.

Audrae Erickson, President Corn Refiners Association: The Corn refiners association is the national trade association representing manufacturers of sweeteners, starches, oils and other products made from corn.

Kristine Clark, Ph. D, R.D., F.A.C.S.M. Director of Sports Nutrition Penn State University.

Types of Sweetener:

  • Agave
  • Brown sugar or granulated white sugar
  • Cane juice, cane syrup, and cane juice crystals
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Corn sweeteners and corn syrup
  • Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Lactose, Maltose, or Sucrose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Stevia
  • Syrup

Here are a few of the questions asked and their answers!

What is the safest sugar for kids?

As we discussed during the webinar, all of the nutritive sweeteners (e.g. the sweeteners that contain calories) are metabolized and absorbed the same way.  Thus, there is no “safer” sugar for kids when you compare sucrose (table sugar), High Fructose Corn Syrup, honey, molasses, or concentrated fruit juices.  All are approximately 50% glucose and 50% fructose.  They all contain the same number of calories, have the same sweetness, and are absorbed and metabolized the same way in human beings.  Of course, all children and adults should consume added sugars in moderation, but there is no safety issue with any of them.
Incidentally, issues of safety are regulated in our country by the Food and Drug Administration.  All of the sugars that I have mentioned have been approved for human consumption by the FDA.

Can you please explain what benefits, if any, there are in using a "natural" sweetener, over regular sugar?

As mentioned earlier in my overview, all of the nutritive (caloric) sweeteners we used are comprised of approximately equal amounts of fructose and glucose.  Though a great deal is made about the "natural" or "not natural" origins of food ingredients, fructose is fructose and glucose is glucose as far as your body is concerned – it can’t tell fructose from one source or another.  And as far as the US Food and Drug Administration is concerned, HFCS and sucrose are both natural sweeteners. So, I don’t think there’s an appreciable difference between natural and regular sweeteners.

My kids love canned fruit, but they seem to be swimming in syrup.  Are there alternatives?

Answer:  Canned fruit is nutritious and can be purchased in it’s own juice.  To avoid extra calories from either juice or syrup, canned fruit can be placed in a collander and drained.  You can purchase canned fruit in lite syrups too and rinse them with water to reduce remaining syrup after draining.  One of the best reasons for buying canned fruit is the fact that you can use it at any time and it never spoils – one of the biggest reasons people tell me they don’t buy fruit is that they forget about it sitting in the refrigerator and it spoils.  Canned and dried fruits are two examples of being able to have fruit at your fingertips with no worries about spoilage.  Canned fruits are usually softer than fresh fruits which can make them easier to chew and swallow for children or anyone with poor dentition.  The key point, canned fruits can be just as nutritious as fresh fruits.

My Question:

My Main concerns is what is everyone so worked up over when it comes to HFCS? People believe that HFCS is making Americans fat. All research and experts agreed that Americans are just eating too much. 85%of diet-conscious women believe being overweight and obese have to do with Americans eating too much and getting too little exercise. It is not the amount of HFCS in food, it is the quantity of the food. I know for a fact that I could not lose any weight after my second pregnancy until I taught myself how to eat the proper serving size for my body and activity level. Try using a smaller plate instead of trying to cut out a certain type of sugar from your diet.

Other  Exercise  Ideas:

Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Park further away and walk to your destination

10-15 minutes strength training 2-3 times per week.

With HFCS getting such a bad rap, it has been considered that corn sugar become the name of HFCS. Will changing the name of high fructose corn syrup to just corn sugar help?

Would you be more likely to buy Corn Syrup instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Since most people believe that high Fructose Corn Syrup is high in Fructose; which isn’t true, would people believe that corn syrup is completely natural?

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of the Corn Refiners Association. I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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Comments

    • says

      That’s ok, I think I did a really poor job representing the whole presentation. I’m glad this has sparked so much conversation and I have an open mind on the topic.

  1. Susan @my2boyz says

    Are you kidding me? HFCS is so bad for you! It does not break down the same way sugar does, our bodies are not wired to break it down, thus the HUGE rise in diabiaties! My son is ADHD and HFCS sends him off the deep end. Sugar DOES NOT do the same thing to him. It is so sad that our own government is cramming the message down our throats that this stuff is OK for us….when EVERY indipendent staudy shows it is not. It is banned in Europe for a reason!

    • Ronald Elrod says

      The human body can NOT distinguish between table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Check it out with the FDA. Better yet, sit down with your personal doctor and discuss with them. They will tell you the same thing, that there is NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO!!!

  2. says

    I understand how great it can feel to have a group like the corn refiners court you, but please understand that they’re spoon feeding you junk science.

    1. HFCS has been linked with obesity, there are too many studies to refute it.
    2. Why on earth would you want MORE processed food? Corn is great, when it’s in season boil an ear of it and eat it, but there’s no need for that level of processing. No good comes of it.
    3. Is it really corn? The genetically engineered foods are NOT good for our bodies or our economy.
    4. Corn is cheap because it’s SUBSIDIZED. I want my money back.

    Humans evolved in a manner that allows us to survive famine. We eat more calories than we require because we need to store fat for “the lean times”. Now we need to evolve so that we can survive the feast.

    We’re all fat, our skies are polluted, the oceans are too, and it’s because we are totally addicted to cheap food that is overly processed.

    If you EVER want to talk about real food I’d be happy to talk to you. I’m at 818.486.9363. I am absolutely NOT judging you for feeling excited about your trip, but I would love to have a powerful voice like yours protecting our families, our tables, our children and our waistlines.

  3. says

    I wasn’t going to comment directly on your site, but since I see that somehow my tweet showed up here, I will. (What the heck program does that anyway? I’ve never seen that before!)

    I read through your post and cross-referenced it with the Mayo Clinic’s perspective – for balance. See: http://ht.ly/2MG33

    The problem is that HFCS is most commonly found in processed foods, which are definitely associated with weight gain. It’s not a simple matter of “quantity” as the HFCS lobby told you.

    Did Mom Central make it clear to you that you would be presented with a one-sided perspective? The way your post reads, it appears that you believe the “experts” presented to you are independent medical experts. While I don’t know the people quoted here first-hand, I can tell you that when industry groups bring out “experts,” they’re typically not independent experts. They’re experts who are paid by industry and are vetted by PR people to ensure that they will present a positive “spin” on the story.

    Read the Mayo Clinic link I sent. It’s not all positive, it’s not all negative…it’s a truly balanced piece….something that the “HCFS blog tour” apparently did not present (no surprise there).

  4. says

    The thing about HFCS and other refined sugars is that it does cause a high glycemic index. More pure sweeteners, such as agave may still contain high doses of sugar, but do not spike your blood sugar. So too much HFCS will cause your glycemic index to be constantly high and you are going to be on the path to diabetes. I’m not a scientist so I may be off a little with my details, but from the researching I have done, glycemic index and spiking blood sugar are the bottom line. Just my 2 cents. :)

  5. says

    I guess there is a lot of people not happy with this post, but at the same time you are presenting information that was presented to you. We only know what we are taught. I actually was thinking about doing more research after doing my post as I am not educated enough on this topic to really say how I feel about it in all honesty. I simply was using this as a way to educate myself as to what is in my pantry.

    • says

      Brandy,

      I think it is pretty said if people take anything they are told at face value without doing additional research, especially if it is on a topic that they know is contentious. It is simple due diligence.

      If the author of this post did that due diligence and somehow still believed what the HFCS peoples’ experts told her, then that is one thing. But if she was simply presenting the information that was presented to her without doing additional research (as you suggested), I would call that irresponsible.

  6. Donnetta says

    The irony here is the government has corn subsidies in place. Then they turn abound and attempt to handle health care. They have created a portion of the problem. I guess this is want happens when big government gets control of things.

  7. says

    First off, I like to question the source of information when making decisions. How deeply is the source vested in the topic? Let’s face it, the Corn Refiners Assoc. is DEEPLY vested in HFCS sales, thus I will naturally question the validity of their information. I’m not saying they are lying, but that it is possible they slant information to their favor and leave out information which is not.

    Secondly, I avoid HFCS because I believe healthy weight is attained (and maintained) through both quantity and QUALITY of food, along with moderate exercise. I personally find the quality of food less when it contains HFCS, and when the quality of food is lower I eat more in order to satiate my taste buds. Once I began eating higher quality foods, I found myself eating less because I was satisfied sooner.

    Thirdly, my midwife told me there would be no difference between natural contractions and Pitocin induced contractions, my body wouldn’t recognize the difference, etc. etc. Same sounding argument HFCS tout. I experienced both types of contractions. The hell there isn’t a difference. I just don’t buy that argument at all. Our body/mind is smarter than we give it credit.

  8. Summer Oleksy says

    The problem is HFCS is molecularly altered corn strach. Pure honey, maple syrup or agave are a healthier choice.

  9. Summer Oleksy says

    With HFCS getting such a bad rap, it has been considered that corn sugar become the name of HFCS. Will changing the name of high fructose corn syrup to just corn syrup help?

    Not if people are informed consumers. Which it sounds like many aren’t if they think HFCS means it’s higher in fructose than other sweeteners. I actually didn’t know people thought that! Maybe those people don’t have access to the internet and are just going with the flow???

    Would you be more likely to buy Corn Syrup instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup?

    No! It’s the same thing – modified, processed food! And it’s not changing to corn syrup; it’s changing to corn sugar.

    Since most people believe that high Fructose Corn Syrup is high in Fructose; which isn’t true, would people believe that corn syrup is completely natural?

    It may be “natural” meaning it comes from corn, but it’s chemically altered so it’s not natural in the true meaning of the word … honey is natural — I can go out into nature and find honey. I can’t go out into nature and find corn sugar. Here’s another example — if I crunch on an apple I get apple juice, if I crunch on corn I don’t get corn sugar.

    • Larry says

      Me to Pam, if I recall correctly somewhere around 95% of the carbon in our bodies comes from corn and corn based products. It really is a big deal.

  10. says

    I wrote a post and mentioned this one, too. Really? Don’t worry about HFCS, just get a smaller plate? Certainly moderation DOES play an important role in health and nutrition, but many of the CRA facts are just plain wrong, or at least not as clear cut as they seem.

  11. says

    Hi,
    I didn’t see my previous comment go through – I hope I didn’t delete it accidentally. Anyway, I mentioned this post on my blog today. I really have to take issue with “just use a smaller plate”. I absolutely agree that moderation is the most healthy way to eat, but I think that’s too simplistic and doesn’t address real concerns about HFCS.

  12. says

    The information you were presented was incomplete, at best. Of course, that can be expected from the industry that has a vested interest in HFCS. In some respects, using generalities, it is true that Americans need to minimize the intake of all sweeteners. But, as posted by others, it is clear that HFCS is more likely to cause weight gain (at least in rodents) than similar ingestion of other sweeteners. And, what is more telling, is that HFCS is found in processed foods. So avoiding HFCS means that you are avoiding processed foods, which is a good thing. What is most infuriating about HFCS is that it is in products you don’t expect – bread, condiments, etc. You expect sugar in cookies, but not HFSC in your whole wheat bread.

    And HFCS is not as natural as you think. Yes, it comes from corn (setting aside that 86% of American corn is genetically modified). The corn is milled to produce corn starch, then processed to get corn syrup, and then enzymes are added to change the glucose into fructose, and then it is purified and mixed. Cornstarch is treated with alpha-amylase. Gluocoamylase (which is produced by Aspergillus, a fungus) breaks the sugar chains down to get glucose, and than xylose isomerase converts the glucose to a mixture of fructose and glucose. Then there are some more steps, including carbon absoruption to remove impurities. So while the FDA has now taken the position that it doesn’t object to labeling HFCS as natural, I think its processing is far from natural (esp. since at least one of the enzymes used is a GMO).

    But, in any event, it would seem that further research into the legitimacy of the CRA’s claims would be warranted before posting.

  13. says

    That’s what I’m talking about. I don’t eat high fructose corn syrup myself, and I won’t give it to my kids! Pretty sad that corn refiners are now using mom blogs to say their product is okay.

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