Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So What's the Truth about High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Like most people concerned about what is in their foods, I have been hesitant about foods manufactured with high fructose corn syrup.  Generally, these foods are highly processed and that in itself can seriously undermine their quality, but there is a possibility that high fructose corn syrup may not be the demon we have long believed it to be.

I was recently invited to attend a webinar about high fructose corn syrup - focused on the idea that it is simply a kind of corn sugar that is handled by your body the same as sugar or honey. As the webinar was sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association, I went into it with quite a bit of skepticism as I never know if I can trust research funded by entities that have such a strong monetary interest invested in the results.

But, I have to say they did present some strong scientific evidence that is making me reconsider (and at least look to find other research on the topic) my feelings about the actual health implications of eating high fructose corn syrup, if there are any.

A few quotes from supporting research:
“Because the composition of HFCS and sucrose are so similar, particularly on absorption by the body, it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose.”
- American Medical Association, Report 3 of the Council on Science and Public Health (A-08), June 2008
“High fructose corn syrup … is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose. Both sweeteners contain the same number of calories (4 per gram) and consist of about equal parts of fructose and glucose. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”
- American Dietetic Association, Hot Topics paper on High Fructose Corn Syrup, December 2008
“There’s not a shred of evidence that these products are different biologically. The decision to switch from HFCS to cane sugar is 100% marketing and 0% science.”
- David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Crain’s Chicago Business, September 7, 2009
That last quote fron Dr. Ludwig did strike a chord with me.  Just as so many manufacturers jump all over the "green" bandwagon and produce products that can be labeled eco-friendly because that is the fashionable trend these days, it seems that many manufacturers are also jumping on the "real sugar" or "no HFCS" trend because it is popular.  

As of now, I haven't made an final decisions about my opinions of high fructose corn syrup, but I am definitely open to discovering more about it.  All in all, this final quote may say it best.

“Rather than ban it [high fructose corn syrup] from your diet, you’re better off cutting back on sugar from all sources. That includes honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, agave syrup, and fruit-juice concentrate, which are found in many so-called healthy treats.”
- Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., Nutrition and Health Expert for The TODAY Show, Parade, March 31, 2010

Disclosure:  The information shared was provided by the Corn Refiners Association.  I have been compensated for writing this blog post.  All opinions are my own.

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