High Fructose Corn Syrup is one of the most controversial ingredients of our generation. It is currently found in almost everything; beverages, cereals, breads, condiments, soups, yogurts, and even meats.
Most nutritional scientists seem to be denouncing it while American corn farmers have banded together to launch a multi-million dollar campaign attempting to argue its safety. To find the truth, one must first understand what HFCS is and its effects on the human body.
What is HFCS / High-Fructose Corn Syrup?
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a corn syrup (yes, it is actually made from corn) that has undergone a process to convert at least part of its glucose into fructose, resulting in a sweeter taste. It has widely replaced normal table sugar because of economic factors (limitations on the production of domestic sugar and tariffs on foreign sugar) and an extreme excess in US corn production over the past few decades.
Critics of High Fructose Corn Syrup argue that, because of its highly processed nature, it is more harmful to humans than normal sugar. The Corn Refiners Association, on the other hand, argues that it is effectively comparable to table sugar. The American Medical Association has said that it seems very unlikely that HFCS contributes to obesity more than normal sugar, but is welcoming further research on the subject.
HFCS is comparable in sweetness to normal sugar. It is also considerably cheaper and easier to blend and transport (because of its liquid state).
Some medical experts argue that HFCS, unlike normal sugar, does not necessarily trigger the “full” effect. and it can lead to significantly higher caloric consumption. Its sweetness is also more “sneaky” and may not be fully realized by the individual consuming it. Many scientific trials have been performed comparing HFCS consumption to that of normal table sugar, and practically every one with drastic results has been shown to have used incorrect or faulty methodology.
Another controversy is the presence of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, in HFCS. It seems that through the process used to create High Fructose Corn Syrup, trace amounts of mercury may be added into the mixture. In a sample of twenty batches, nine were found to contain Mercury. The amounts, however, may have been negligible.
When the body consumes significant amounts of High Fructose Corn Syrup, there may be a buildup of uric acid. This may lead to metabolic syndrome, which may consequently lead to heart disease. Uric acid buildup is usually a consequence of fructose breakdown in the body.
The high levels of fructose in HFCS have also been linked to Type-II diabetes. In otherwise healthy individuals who spent two weeks on a diet high in fructose, a 25% drop in insulin sensitivity was seen.
It seems High Fructose Corn Syrup is neither the evil corporate additive that nutritional scientists want you to believe, nor is it the perfectly safe ingredient that corn manufacturers preach.
While it may not be significantly more harmful than normal sugar, it is nonetheless an easy way to pack high amounts of sugars into practically everything you eat. The problem then is not the ingredient, but the absurd levels at which it is consumed. Occasional ingestion of anything will not cause obesity; drinking ten sodas a day, however, just might.