News: Hit and a Myth
Below are the myths. More information, including sources, can be found at http://www.hfcsfacts.com/.
Myth: High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is solely to blame for obesity and diabetes.
Reality: There is no scientific evidence to suggest that high fructose corn syrup is uniquely responsible for people becoming obese. As noted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1996, "the saccharide composition (glucose to fructose ratio) of HFCS is approximately the same as that of honey, invert sugar and the disaccharide sucrose (or table sugar)." Obesity results from an imbalance of calories consumed and calories burned. U.S. Department of Agriculture data show that per capita consumption of high fructose corn syrup is actually on the decline, yet obesity and diabetes rates continue to rise. In fact, obesity rates are rising around the world, including in Mexico, Australia and Europe, even though the use of high fructose corn syrup outside of the U.S. is limited.
The leading causes of diabetes are obesity, advancing age and heredity. All caloric sweeteners trigger an insulin response in the body. In fact, table sugar, honey and high fructose corn syrup trigger about the same insulin release because they contain nearly equal amount of fructose and glucose.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted high fructose corn syrup "Generally Recognized as Safe" status for use in food, and reaffirmed that ruling in 1996 after thorough review.
Myth: High fructose corn syrup is high in fructose.
Reality: Contrary to its name, high fructose corn syrup is not high in fructose. In fact, the composition of high fructose corn syrup is similar to sugar. Sugar is composed of 50% fructose and 50% glucose and high fructose corn syrup has either 42% or 55% fructose, with the remaining sugars being primarily glucose.
Myth: High fructose corn syrup is metabolized differently. It blocks the ability of the body to know when it is full.
Reality: A study published in the July 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Pablo Monsivais, et al. at the University of Washington found that beverages sweetened with sugar, high fructose corn syrup as well as 1% milk, all have similar effects on feelings of fullness.
A study published in the February 2007 issue of Nutrition by Kathleen J. Melanson, et al. at the University of Rhode Island reviewed the effects of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose on circulating levels of glucose, leptin, insulin and ghrelin in a study group of lean women. The study found "no differences in the metabolic effects" of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose.
Myth: Sugar is healthier than high fructose corn syrup.
Reality: High fructose corn syrup is nearly identical in composition to table sugar: Both contain approximately 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup have the same caloric density as most carbohydrates; both have 4 calories per gram. Because they are nearly compositionally equivalent, the human body cannot tell the difference between high fructose corn syrup and sugar.
Myth: High fructose corn syrup is sweeter than sugar.
Reality: High fructose corn syrup and sucrose have virtually the same sweetness. High fructose corn syrup was made to provide the same sweetness as sugar so that consumers would not notice a difference in sweetness or taste.
Myth: High fructose corn syrup is used in food products only because it is cheap.
Reality: Price may have prompted manufacturers to switch from sugar to high fructose corn syrup 20 years ago, but it is no longer a primary factor since high fructose corn syrup has specific and unique functional qualities not shared by sugar. Corn sweeteners enjoy widespread use because they benefit consumers by reducing food spoilage, retaining moisture in foods, helping canned foods taste fresher, enhancing fruit and spice flavors and prolonging product freshness. Among many other benefits, high fructose corn syrup allows breakfast bars to remain moist and makes bran cereal palatable.
Myth: High fructose corn syrup is not natural.
Reality: High fructose corn syrup is made from corn, a natural grain product. The process to make high fructose corn syrup begins with steeping corn to soften and separate the kernel into its component parts--starch, corn hull, protein and oil. Many of the processes used to make high fructose corn syrup are used in the production of other foods and ingredients that are commonly considered natural. Like table sugar, high fructose corn syrup is composed of almost equal parts fructose and glucose, which are found in many other naturally-occurring foods. High fructose corn syrup contains no artificial or synthetic materials or color additives.
Myth: High fructose corn syrup, fructose and corn syrup are the same.
Reality: High fructose corn syrup and corn syrup are different products with distinctly different functions. Corn syrup, which is mainly glucose, is used as a non-sweet thickener. High fructose corn syrup, on the other hand, is made of almost equal portions of fructose and glucose and is used as a sweetener. Fructose is a naturally-occurring sweetener found in fruits and honey.
Myth: High fructose corn syrup costs taxpayers millions of dollars in tax subsidies.
Reality: While the U.S. government does provide support to certain farmers to guarantee a stable farm economy and a reliable food supply, manufacturers of corn sweeteners do not receive these subsidies.
From the December 17, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash