High fructose corn syrup: How much do we actually know?

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History

HFCS,(High Fructose Corn Syrup)  first introduced by Richard O. Marshall and Earl R. Kooi in 1957, they were not actually successful because apparently part of the process required arsenate, which is extremely toxic for humans to consume. A Dr. Kei Yamanaka in Japan, 1961, went to be a bit more successful having discovered a catalyst required for the production that didn’t involve the very toxic arsenate. And then later between the years of 1965 and 1970 the industrial production process was highly refined by  Dr. Yoshiyuki Takasaki.

Facts

HFCS is 24% water and the rest is sugar.

Varieties of HFCS:

HFCS-55 ( mostly used for soft drinks)- 55% fructose, 42% glucose

HFCS-42 (used in beverages, cereals, processed foods, baked goods)- 42% fructose, 53% glucose

HFCS-90 (used for specialty food items, but mainly blended with HFCS-42 to make HFCS-55)

As of 2012, the average American consumed 27 lbs of HFCS per year. That number has since changed and risen to 55 Lbs. (?)

 

It consisted of any group of corn syrups that have undergone an enzymatic process to convert some of its glucose and fructose to produce a certain type of sweetness.

It is the predominantly used sweetener in processed foods and beverages in the USA. Surprise, surprise.

In the USA we have government subsidies on corn, paid to the growers, keeping the price of corn low. We also have government production quotas of domestic sugar and import tariffs on foreign sugar-making HFCS one of the sweeteners that has predominantly replaced table sugar. In the food industry this makes it so that the price for sucrose is higher here in the USA than anywhere else in the world. The U.S. price of sugar is twice the global price, making HFCS the cheapest way to sweeten things. Oh joy!

These tariffs were mandated in 1977.

Health

The Corn Refiners Association disputes claims about the health effects of HFCS on us all. These claims would include contribution to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty acid liver disease. There are many research teams with tons of research data supporting both sides honestly. However what I found odd is that in every other country outside of the United States, from a medical stand point these claims of medical findings that large consumption of HFCS do in fact lead to many of these issues as oppose to the use of regular table sugar is proven to be true.

Some things to keep in mind about HFCS:

The FDA ( Food and Drug Administration) label HFCS as ” generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). since 1975. Wow that is inspiring.

HFCS contributes, particularly to weight gain because it affects appetite function on a high level. Doesn’t this seem to make sense when you think of people who struggle with weight gain and also happen to eat lots of processed foods?

We use food grade Hydrochlric Acid in the processing of corn syrup. This has been linked to being a source of inorganic mercury.(depending on how it is manufactured)

I read an article(2012) in the Huffington Post, Healthy Living section, speaking on the link between HFCS consumption and type 2 diabetes,  where a researcher Stanley Ulijaszek, the director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University says “”Most populations have an almost insatiable appetite for sweet foods, but regrettably our metabolism has not evolved sufficiently to be able to process the fructose from high fructose corn syrup in the quantities that some people are consuming it,” Many scientists, researchers, medical practitioners and more believe this to be true worldwide.

One of the things that bothers me about the countless websites, articles and more dedicated to promoting propaganda and false facts about  HFCS is that they aren’t necessarily lying to us. For example I found a website fully dedicated to “informing” the American people about the misconceptions of HFCS in our diet. They pose a question like ” Is HFCS unnatural?” then go on to give you the answer which is “No, HFCS is made from corn. A natural grain. There are no synthetic ingredients or color additives and it is produced very similarly to other sugars”. This is hysterical to me because technically they are not lying, however they are perpetuating partial information and expecting us to be satisfied. Most Americans are. The results from producing HFCS is anything but natural. It is also linked to all types of long-term health problems that can not be argued but often are.

honey bee

We even give HFCs to our honey bees in this country, since the 1970’s. Which by the way has since been discovered is hazardous and “colony depleting” to their health and future. The reasons we feed them HFCS is to replace the nourishment they get from the honey that we take away to sell. It’s not really a surprise that it is bad for them, seeing that it is pretty bad for us. They however do not suffer from the same ailments, the HFCS causes their defenses to be low, specifically the bees that are treated with pesticides, which is most of them.

Some of the scientific community agrees with the implications of the prolonged use, in extremely high concentrations of High fructose corn syrup in our diets and others choose not to. However I think no matter how you feel, we can probably all agree that too much of anything isn’t always good and the best way to look at our diets and health is with an eye to moderation and knowing precisely what it is we choose to put into our bodies.

Happy snacking

❤ Cassandra

 

 

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