Monday, March 1, 2010

Mar.1: Toxin of the Day ~ High Fructose Corn Syrup

Has anyone seen the new commercial aimed to calm the bad press regarding high fructose corn syrup? "It's natural and it has the same calories as sugar," the woman reassures her boyfriend in a condescending tone. She's kind of like the pusher that hangs out at the fence of the school yard. "One time won't hurt you - just try it!"

So what is HFCS? It's created by causing enzymatic changes in regular corn syrup. This is done by treating corn starch with alpha-amalyze, an enzyme which breaks it down to a shorter chemical chain of sugars. A chemical called glucoamalyze, which is created by adding a fermented fungus, is then added, and then the substance receives a treatment of chromatography, which separates the remain components even further. Some HFCS has been shown to contain trace amounts of mercury from the processing.

HFCS is becoming more commonly used than sugar because it is cheaper. It also masquerades under the names glucose-sucrose, isoglucose, maize syrup or glucose-fructose syrup.

HFCS is being touted as a natural product. As our commercial's pusher says, "Silly, it's made from corn." True, it originally starts out as corn, but recently the CSPI (Center for Science int the Public Interest) has recently threatened lawsuits against companies referring to it as a natural ingredient. Their position is that the high level of processing the corn undergoes, the genetically modified enzyme that is added to separate the molecules of the corn, and the synthetic fixing agents used in this process, rules out the definition of "natural". Cadbury Schweppes voluntarily changed their labeling when threatened with this suit.

Critics of the commercial use of HFCS point out that the low cost makes the high sugar content more easily available, contributing to obesity. Some studies have said that the higher content of fructose, instead of sucrose, is more likely to trigger insulin resistance. Animal studies have proven that HFCS suppresses the sensation of fullness, causing over consumption. Over consumption, in turn, caused the rats to suffer from fatty liver disease and Type II Diabetes.

In reality the studies that say HFCS is worse than sugar are not conclusive. HFCS is, however, similar to sugar, in that it should be avoided. It carries with it the same, if not necessarily worse, health risks as sugar.

Sweeten with honey, sucanat, agave nectar, and maple syrup, and use these in moderation!

1 comment:

  1. What about that new stuff that is out there.. I cant remember the name but it claims to be natural.. I think it starts with an A.. yes I am super helpful I know