High Fructose Corn Syrup – What Exactly Is It?

There are many things that moms are passionate about when it comes to what’s best for their family.  Hot topics that get people riled up; breast feeding vs. bottle feeding, to vaccinate or not, and most prominent of late – the evils of High Fructose Corn Syrup.  But making other moms feel inadequate as parents because of something you believe, without having all the facts is not fair.

Nutrition is a serious thing and must be discussed seriously, and that’s what I want to do today – to discuss it.  Lay out the facts, and then let every parent decide for themselves what they want to do, no judging, no finger pointing, no labeling.

I personally have never checked the contents of my food to see whether or not it has high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list.  It never occurred to me that it may be either bad or good for my family to eat it.  However, I have seen and heard the recent media onslaught of the horrors of feeding it to your children (I’ve never been one to cut anything completely out of my child’s diet, I am of the belief that anything is okay in moderation), so when I was contacted by Mom Central to learn the facts of high fructose corn syrup and how it relates to nutrition, I was interested in learning more.

I got to participate in a web conference featuring some pretty prominent professionals including; John White Ph.D. and James M. Rippe M.D. Professor of Biomedical Sciences and other noted speakers.

John White’s speciality is in caloric sweeteners, foods that fall into that classification are sugar, honey, agave nectar and the like.

He explained to us that the mischaracterization of high fructose corn syrup started in 2004 due to an article that was issued in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by George Bray, Samara Neilson and Barry Popkin which stated that high fructose corn syrup leads to obesity.

But is that statement true?  A number of people would like you to believe so, but the facts bring us to a different conclusion.  Before you decide that high fructose corn syrup is as nutritionally compromising as the media would lead you to believe, let’s view the facts.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is half fructose/half glucose.
Guess what?  So is Sucrose (table sugar)!  The only difference between the two is the chemical bond that is between the fructose and glucose in the sucrose.  That bond though is irrelevant  in the way that the sucrose or hfcs is digested, since the bond breaks once the sucrose has entered the small intestine.  Because they are both a fructose/glucose combo – they are digested in exactly the same way, and so have the exact same effect on obesity.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is not just used in foods as a sweetener.
There are two kinds of high fructose corn syrup – one that has 42% fructose and one has 55% fructose.  The 42% formulation is actually less sweet than sugar.  This type of hfcs is used in foods to promote browning, to retain moisture to delay staling, for microbial stability, helps build structure, provides texture, adjusts freezing points.

The name High Fructose Corn Syrup is Confusing.
Just think of it as corn sugar.  It’s sugar that comes from corn, just like table sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets.  Most of all the common nutritive sweeteners we use are a mix of fructose and glucose, because that is what is common in nature.  A 50/50 fructose/glucose mix is natural, most fruits and nuts fall into the 50/50 range.

So according to the facts, sucrose and high fructose are the same from a metabolic and nutritional point of view.  The American Medical Association says there is nothing that links hfcs to obesity in humans.  Much of the research done that gives skewed information is because hfcs is not being compared to sucrose, they are comparing pure fructose to pure glucose at high levels.

From a nutritional standpoint granulated sugar and high fructose corn syrup are equivalent.  Obesity is rising because we eat more of everything now than we did 35 years ago!  Moderation is the key whether your sweetner is sugar, hfcs, honey, agave nectar or another choice.

I hope this post was helpful in some way.  We all have to choose what we think is best for our family’s nutritional needs.  Having the facts is the best way to do that, we don’t need to point fingers are feel superior to others because we choose one way or another, but we do need to be informed of both sides.

To learn more about Corn Sugar visit http://www.sweetsurprise.com.

“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.”

10 thoughts on “High Fructose Corn Syrup – What Exactly Is It?

  1. I completely agree with you. Moderation is key! I don't cut anything from our diets either. Kids are getting fatter (and have more weight-related health problems) because they eat more and get significantly less physical activity than we did as kids. Balanced meals and more activity will cure childhood obesity!

    FYI: I wasn't aware of this until I moved to sugar beet country (NW MN), a lot of table sugar brands do NOT come from the sugar cane. It comes from sugar beets which look totally different than the red beets we see in the supermarket. I've tasted both kind of sugars and can't tell much of a difference. Not sure why but I was amazed by this bit of trivia! lol

  2. Geesh, I can't believe the ferociousness with which people come down on either side of this debate! Who knew HFCS could get to people's emotions the way abortion, politics or religion do?

    I'm all about moderation in everything, HFCS included.

  3. I also agree that moderation makes a difference. I try not to give my family foods containing high fructose corn syrup too much, but it is in so many things that you wouldn't even imagine. It was good to learn some facts though so I could be more informed…great post!

  4. I am one of the people who cuts out HFCS. I don't freak out if a little is in something, but avoid items that contain it as a primary ingredient. There are studies supporting both sides of the debate. I choose to err on the side of caution.

  5. Thank you for sharing this. I have read some studies linking HFCS to obesity and now I want to read those studies from their source. I have always reached for things that don't have HFCS in them because they have less sugar and less sugar – whether HFCS or white sugar – is so much better for my family. Diabetes runs in both our families so I have to watch our intake of starches/sweet stuff.

  6. I found this conference a lot of people went to interesting. I wish I could have been there because I was curious what they are saying about the recent study out by princeton I believe about it causing obesity in rats. I would be interested in more info on that.

    I'm really torn both ways. I do think the US issue is the moderation not the ingredients though.

    Thanks fro the info

  7. It's still the facts from only one side of the story. The facts are coming from CRA who are invested in the sale of HFCS. I'll trust facts from an independent source before the CRA or the FDA. The FDA still refuses to see the danger of yellow dye #5 & #6 and red dye #40, even though European studies have proven its ill effects on children.

    If Americans focused more on fresh foods (sticking to the perimeters of a grocery store) and fresh cooking, HFCS wouldn't be a blip on our radar. Of course, CRA doesn't want that either.

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