High fructose corn syrup remains the most popular sweetner in the United States. The reasons are many; it’s cheaper to manufacture, lasts longer, dissolves into food better and tastes exactly like sugar. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is not just found in sugary drinks and candy but also breads, pasta sauce and plenty of other non sweet food items.
In the U.S Numerous scientists have linked HFCS to the obesity epidemic in the rising of type two diabetes yet the corn syrup industry claims the body processes the HFCS the same way the body process regular sugar.
How is high fructose corn syrup made?
Corn sryup is the made from breaking down the molecular chains of corn starch. These smaller chains form glucose which gives corn starch it’s sweet taste. Additional enzymes are used to convert additional glucose into fructose. The difference between high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup is the amount of glucose. As it’s name implies HFCS has a high amount of fructose.
Why HFCS has replaced sugar
Because HFCS is a syrup and not granules it never crystallizes thus mixes better with food and beverages. HFCS also has a long shelf life than products made with real sugar because it locks in moisture.
Perhaps the most important reason HFCS is used instead of sugar is the price. When HFCS came on the market it was about 20 percent cheaper than HFCS. The U.S government has subsidizes the corn industry with billions of dollars every year. Farmers have a huge incentive to produce vast amounts of corn. Because of these subsidies the HFCS can be found in most processed foods.
Effects of HFCS on your body
Because HFCS is chemically different from regular sugar your body process it different. HFCS is an industrial food and does not occur naturally. The ratio of fructose to glucose is about 55-45, unlike sugar which has an equal 50-50 fructose to glucose ratio. Fructose is sweeter than sugar therefore HFCS is sweeter as well.
The corn refining industry has released a multi-million dollar campaign claiming HFCS is no worse for your body than sugar. The majority of scientists disagree with this assumption and blame HFCS as a leading cause of obesity and diabetes. A recent Princeton study has proven that rats gain considerably more weight consuming HFCS instead of sugar.
Fortunately, unrefined sugar and other natural sweeteners have been making a comeback, largely due to findings made by scientists.
High Fructose Corn Syrup, How Sweet is It?, Iowa State University
Mike Adams, HFCS Explained; Natural News
Mark Hyman, M.D, The Not So Sweet Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup; Huffington Post
Hilary Parker, A Sweet Problem; Princeton University