Sunday, December 23, 2012
LabelWatch.com's article on HFCS
What it is:
Sweetener: Soft drinks, other processed foods.
What we know:
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is produced from cornstarch that has been enzymatically treated and then is subjected to several other processing steps to form a highly processed, unnatural liquid sweetener, the most common of which (HFCS-55) is chemically similar to regular table sugar. Since its introduction, HFCS has replaced sugar in numerous processed foods because it's cheaper and easier to blend than sugar.
In 2006, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) threatened to file a lawsuit against Cadbury Schweppes for labeling 7Up as "All Natural" or "100% Natural", despite containing HFCS. While the FDA has no definition of "natural", CSPI claims that HFCS is not a 'natural' ingredient due to the high level of processing and the use of at least one genetically modified (GMO) enzyme required to produce it. In 2007, Cadbury Schweppes agreed to stop calling 7Up "All Natural.'
The main difference between sucrose and HFCS comes from the difference in the chemical make-up between them. In HFCS, the fructose and glucose molecules are 'unbound.' By contrast, the fructose and glucose in sucrose (sugar) are joined together to form a single molecule called a disaccharide.
A 2007 study by Chi-Tang Ho, Ph.D. from Rutgers University showed sodas sweetened with HFCS had astonishingly high levels of reactive carbonyls. These undesirable and highly reactive compounds associated with "unbound" fructose and glucose molecules, are believed to cause tissue damage. Reactive carbonyls have been found to be elevated in the blood of individuals with diabetes and have been linked to the complications of that disease. By contrast, reactive carbonyls are not present in table sugar. It is important to note, that the 'bound' glucose and fructose molecules in sugar also become 'unbound' in highly acidic solutions like soda. More research needs to be conducted into the relationship between 'unbound' fructose and glucose and the resulting reactive carbonyls in products.
In addition, over consumption of caloric sweeteners have also been linked to adverse health effects, such as obesity and diabetes. There appears to be a correlation between the rise of these diseases in the U.S. and the increasing consumption of caloric sweeteners, most notably HFCS. However, there is no evidence that the obesity and diabetes epidemic is a direct result of the increased consumption of HFCS, as it is believed other sweeteners with equal caloric value would be used if HFCS were unavailable.
It's best to avoid this highly processed, unnatural sugar and reach for minimally-processed foods, rich in whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.s