High fructose corn syrup: What’s the big deal?

high-fructose-corn-syrup-cancerHigh fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener made from corn starch that has been around since the 70’s. We’ve all heard in the media that it’s really bad for you, so why is that? Attempts by companies to make it sound “natural” and being “corn sugar” has not diverted the attention away from the fact that it is harmful to our body. So why is it still around?

The simple answer is: it’s a cheaper and more stable resource compared to sugar.

OK, so the industry is therefore prone to using it instead of sugar. But, why is it bad? Well, we all know that sugar (in more than small occasional quantities) is bad for us. So we can’t say that a sugar would be good from us just because it comes from another source, such as corn. But the truth is: HFCS is slightly (if at all) worse than regular sugar! Why?

Table sugar has 50% glucose and 50% fructose. High fructose corn syrup (as the name says) has more fructose so the concern is that the body handles it a little differently. Although a lot of research has been done on HFCS, there is not enough data to prove that it may partially be responsible for the ongoing rise in obesity. Although there seems to be a lot of correlation between HFCS and obesity, correlation does not equal causation!

My point is: if HFCS would have been really bad for you (compared to sugar), the extensive research would have found it already. However, since we still cannot conclude anything after all this time and money invested in research, if there is a health effect difference from table sugar, it is minimal. Most research so far (and there’s a lot of it!) shows that there’s really not much difference.

Thus, both table sugar and HFCS are bad in quantities more than recommended (maximum 10% of your daily carbohydrates should be from sugar). There is no need to panic and screen out all HFCS foods out of our diets (and trust me, that would be very difficult since it’s everywhere!).


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