High Fructose Corn Syrup: A Modern-Day Food Dilemma

High fructose corn syrup (or HFCS) is quite the buzz word these days.  Similarly to trans fats, HFCS has become ultra taboo to mainstream America. 

Various studies have controversially linked HFCS with the recent rise in obesity and diabetes.  It’s cheaper and sweeter than sugar, easier to transport, and extends the shelf-life of various popular food products.   

Go to the grocery store these days, and you can find it pretty much anywhere: ketchup, soft drinks, bread, even children’s vitamins!  Since sugar is so expensive, let’s sweeten everything with this highly processed compound!  Sounds like a good idea!

Poor HFCS, getting such a bad rap.

But it’s made out of corn, isn’t it?  Yes, it’s derived from corn.  So why not call it a vegetable?  (BTW, corn is not a vegetable; it’s a grain.)  But everything is derived from some sort of naturally-occurring ingredient.  Then some are heated, twisted, wringed out, spliced, and osmosis-ized into something else so it vaguely resembles anything even close to its original form.  Such is HFCS.

Time magazine quoted Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, saying, “High-fructose corn syrup starts out as cornstarch, which is chemically or enzymatically degraded to glucose and some short polymers of glucose. Another enzyme is then used to convert varying fractions of glucose into fructose…High-fructose corn syrup just doesn’t exist in nature.”

Now the Corn Refiners Association is trying to say HFCS isn’t as bad as it sounds.  (Hm, does clearing up HFCS’s bad rap sound like it would be in their self-interest?  I wonder…):

HFCS Ad

So maybe it has the same number of calories as table sugar.  So maybe when it comes to pure calorie-counting, it’s not so bad.  But to me, it still doesn’t sound like something I care to have in my body. 

I’m no nutrition expert, but I do know one thing – our bodies are intelligent machines. However, throw something in there that’s been totally morphed into something crazy like HFCS, and it won’t know how to react to it.  So it’ll react in a not-so-favorable way.

This is why I always prefer Sugar in the Raw, agave nector, or natural pure cane sugar over Sweet & Low, Equal (lovingly referred to as “Pink and Blue Death”) or Splenda.  Your body is a naturally-occurring mechanism.  Feed it with fuel that’s as close as you can get to its naturally-occurring state.

Do your own research.  And decide for yourself whether or not you want to feed HFCS to your children.  As for me, I plan on feeding my body, and the bodies of my future children, something that hasn’t been treated with something highly processed – or “osmosis-ized”, my new favorite word (yes I made it up) – like HFCS.

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4 thoughts on “High Fructose Corn Syrup: A Modern-Day Food Dilemma

  1. I agree, HFCS is not good. I’m finding that growing up, I had a lot of it and didn’t even know it…I’m finding that as much as I’m trying to get my fitness and nutrition in order, it’s hard to have that knowledge and know how to help yourself do the 180 you need to do to get those bad things out of you lifestyle. Baby steps are in order I suppose…

    I appreciate the alternatives you mentioned for HFCS. I find, however, that it’s VERY difficult to find foods without fake sugar of corn syrup in them. Yes, clean eating is ideal, but what do you do when those are not an option? We all want to be able to plan ahead and pack our food so we’re not caught in a pickle – but what do you do when you envitably are in that pickle? What are the best options?

  2. Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for the comment! I totally understand where you’re coming from. Doing a “180” takes a lot of knowledge, discipline, thinking ahead, and most importantly it takes a strong mindset. (I think you’ve already read my posts, “It Just Keeps Pulling Me Back” and “Breaking Free.”) Hopefully those have given you some ideas.

    Regarding your questions about options, let me give it some thought. I’ll address that in one of my upcoming posts.

    Have a great day!

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