Let me start out by saying at times this topic can be so frustrating it can feel like another bewildering game of Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego, but I’m going to try my best. You know those high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) commercials where the question is posed as to why HFCS is bad and the responder can’t come up with a single reason? Well, if you haven’t, you’re not missing anything. Regardless, they make me laugh. Not only are they awful, they’re also true to a certain extent. Below is a link to one such gem of a commercial if you’re so inclined.
There is so much information out there about this stuff. It’s good. It’s bad. It’s going to run as the Republican Candidate in the 2012 election. Mitt Romney who?! Let me tell you folks, it’s views on healthcare and tax reform may give the Democratic Candidate a run for his (or her, but most likely his) money. Moving on. I thought I would take the opportunity to share with you what I’ve learned on this controversial ingredient that’s been linked to just about every disease in the book. I was originally going to make this a general post back in April, but holy moly it’s just not that simple!
Now let’s talk about sweetness. Table sugar (sucrose) is 100 on the relative sweetness scale. Fructose is much sweeter and comes in at 173. Glucose is slightly less sweet than sucrose at 74.
The Making of HFCS:
Traditional corn syrup is simply made by introducing water to cornstarch. It’s made up of glucose and other larger compounds. When commercial manufacturers make HFCS, they convert some of the glucose to fructose, thus making it sweeter. This conversion takes place via enzymatic activity. What is an enzyme? An enzyme is simply a catalyst that brings about a reaction. Manufacturers can convert upwards of 90% of the glucose to fructose. The more glucose that’s converted to fructose, the sweeter the solution will be.
At the end of the day, high fructose corn syrup is still simply sucrose (glucose + fructose) with a greater concentration of fructose.
- What are they drinking?!
- This ad, along with its sister commercials out there on HFCS, are brought to you by the Corn Refiners Association. This isn’t made apparent to the average viewer, as in those of us with moderate to poor eyesight. This little brought to you by tag appears for about three seconds at the very end of the commercial in faint grey font. So what’s the big deal? Well HFCS is made from corn. Think they have an agenda? You bet they do.
“High Fructose Corn syrup is a good substitute for sugar, kinda like motor oil is a good substitute for extra virgin olive oil. Pour some motor oil in your pan and eat that, but only in moderation.” – received 17 thumbs up (those who agree)
“This is a huge piece of propaganda, this stuff hurts you, it is horrible compared to natural sugar, this stuff is linked to colon cancer.” – received 21 thumbs up
“Research studies have yielded mixed results about the possible adverse effects of consuming high-fructose corn syrup. Although [HFCS] is chemically similar to table sugar (sucrose), concerns have been raised because of how [HFCS] is processed. Some believe that your body reacts differently to high-fructose corn syrup than it does to other types of sugar. But research about high-fructose corn syrup is evolving.”
Stay tuned for Part II