What do we know about high fructose corn syrup, and is it good or bad for our health?
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a calorie-providing sweetener used to sweeten foods and beverages, particularly processed and store-bought foods. It is made by an enzymatic process from glucose syrup that is derived from corn. A relatively new food ingredient, it was first produced in Japan in the late 1960s, then entered the American food supply system in the early 1970s. HFCS is a desirable food ingredient for food manufacturers because it is equally as sweet as table sugar, blends well with other foods, helps foods to maintain a longer shelf life, and is less expensive (due to government subsidies on corn) than other sweeteners. It can be found in a variety of food products including soft drinks, salad dressings, ketchup, jams, sauces, ice cream and even bread. (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=486)
There are two types of high fructose corn syrup found in foods today:
- HFCS-55 (the main form used in soft drinks) contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose.
- HFCS-42 (the main form used in canned fruit in syrup, ice cream, desserts, and baked goods) contains 42% fructose and 58% glucose. (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=486)
Bottom line, the Mayo Clinic notes that “controversy exists … about whether or not the body handles high-fructose corn syrup differently than table sugar.” But Mayo and Green America are on the same page when it comes to sugar and HFCS: Avoid overconsumption of both. (http://blog.greenamerica.org/2013/04/23/table-sugar-vs-high-fructose-corn-syrup-which-is-worse/)