Sunday, February 10, 2013

Do We Condemn High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

You've heard the buzz word 'high-fructose corn syrup'. Unfortunately, all we hear are the commercials on TV that do everything short of carrying a plaque around town with the words 'High-Fructose Corn Syrup is the Devil'. All we are told is how bad it is compared to sugar and how we should eliminate it from our diets. In fact, consumer products are beginning to have the tag line 'No high-fructose corn syrup added'.

What is HFCS?
Let's start by understanding what high-fructose corn syrup is and where it comes from. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener made from corn. It is composed of two types of sugars: glucose and fructose. It is found mostly in processed food.

How is HFCS different from regular table sugar?
HFCS consists of either 42% fructose and 58% glucose, or 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Now, since we are so concerned about this 'fake' sugar, but are comfortable with sugar and other sweeteners, let's compare it to regular table sugar, shall we? Regular table sugar contains about 50% fructose and 50% glucose. So as you see, there is not such a huge difference.

So if it is the same as sugar, why don't companies just use sugar?
This is a very good question. Well, it always comes down to money, doesn't it. HFCS is cheaper to produce than regular sugar, and it is used as a preservative to make products last longer. Not only does it make products last longer, it gives them that fresh look and texture for a longer period of time.

Does HFCS do the body more damage than sugar?
As we've talked about above, the composition of HFCS is not that different from sugar. So does the body process it different from the way it processes sugar? Nope. In fact, when you consume food with HFCS, the body cannot tell the difference. So why have some individuals set their sights on this particular sugar? I am not sure. What I do know is that we should not be focused on this particular sugar, but on all sugars.

Okay, so what does this mean for me?
Limit your sugar intake, period. And when I say 'sugar', I don't mean just the sugar you put in your coffee. I mean all foods with added sugar. Remember a few weeks ago when we talked about how the body processes simple vs complex carbohydrates? Make sure you remember that as you make your food choices. Read the label before you eat. Consider how many calories you are consuming each day as a whole. Do not focus on HFCS and continue to consume other types of sugar in large amounts. Consider ALL types of sugars.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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