High Fructose Corn Syrup – Instigating the Facts

So I have been putting off this topic for awhile because there is so much stuff out there – one article considers it the death of all evil and the other one considers it just fine in moderation, like any other sugar.

Let’s break it down and look at the facts first.

Simple Sugars 101

Fructose is one of the main types of sugars found in fruits such as apples, in fruit juices, and in honey.  It is a component of table sugar along with glucose.  Fructose is a monosaccharide (one sugar/carbohydrate molecule).  It is up to twice as sweet as sucrose, and sweeter than HFCS and does not cause a rapid rise and subsequent large fall in blood glucose levels, hence a low glycemic index (GI).


Glucose  is a monosaccharide (one sugar/carbohydrate molecule). Glucose has a high value because it is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream; high GI.

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)? 

It is a kind of corn sugar that is similar to sugar or honey. The name “high fructose corn syrup” is used because HFCS has a higher content of fructose compared to “regular” corn syrup.  HFCS and table sugar (sucrose) usually contain similar amounts of glucose and fructose.


Table Sugar 50% 50%  
HFCS 55 55% 45% *used in soft drinks
HFCS 45 42% 58% *used in canned fruits, ice cream, desserts and other sweetened processed foods



Prevalence of High Fructose Corn Syrup

A commentary from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states the consumption of HFCS increased more than 1000% between 1970 and 1990. HFCS now represents more than 40% of caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages and is the sole caloric sweetener in soft drinks in the United States.

* Many people are linking this to the obesity epidemic – I don’t buy that necessarily because look at our portion sizes! We’ll talk more about this!


Talk on HFCS

The science behind HFCS to obesity – some studies show eating foods that contain HFCS can lower your levels of the hunger hormone “ghrelin” and therefore when you eat these foods you do not feel full.   The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007  finds that replacing sucrose with HFCS in beverages  does not play a supporting role on the effect of food intake linking it to obesity and short-term effects on food intake.


This is also why you see all those commercials and information from the Corn Refiners Association at http://www.sweetsurprise.com.   They do have great info answering basic question on HFCS.


I also listened to a webinar from G. Harvey Anderson, PhD, is professor of Nutritional Sciences, Physiology and Medical Sciences, University of Toronto on High Fructose Corn Syrup, Beverages & Body Weight.  He found numerous studies find no significant difference between HFCS and sugar  HFCS & Beverages: Impact on Appetite and Food Intake in the blood sugar and no significant effect on the concentrations of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.


But there is always new research to debunk the old research –



New Studies link HFCS to Obesity

Now one of the latest studies out their from Princeton University – March 2010 is finding that HFCS has a direct link to obesity. 

In this article, psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction finds that "when rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight."


Hmm . . . very interesting!

I don’t like what I am hear but until there are more studies finding this same link between obesity and HFCS to help clarify this epidemic, I will be on board.  But for now, I still see what people eat, where they eat and size of foods they eat.  It is outrageous.  As our society eats more large portions of food in combination with less activity – it is  a recipe for an obesity epidemic.  Again going back to the formula of the more calories you eat, the more calories you will gain which makes simple scientific sense. 


Egg are bad. . . no wait, eggs are good . . .

Like with every new scientific finding there is always a contrary counter part but my philosophy if you stick to the perimeter of the shopping market you don’t have to worry about all the other crap you hear.  Eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains and healthy fats will keep your body healthy and living to the fullest.  Of course it is hard to get away from all HFCS but again in moderation.  Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, syrup, cane sugar and other are really just empty calories.  So why fill your body full of something that does not provide your body with proper nutrition?


Some studies are linking HFCS with cancers and even mercury.  HFCS has had similar findings as did partially hydrogenated oils, aka trans fats, meaning both humanly manufactured ingredients in some studies were supporting the fact the body does not metabolize them properly.  I do believe that humanly manufactured ingredients are probably not the best to eating in large amounts.

Nutrition is sure a realm of ongoing research, what you hear today may not be what you hear tomorrow.  That is why you can’t go wrong with simple foods, meaning unprocessed for the majority of the time!




Mayo Clinic – High Fructose Corn Syrup

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – No support for HFCS

1 comment

  1. Cynthia1770 September 9, 2010 at 9:43 am

    My google alert for HFCS picked up your post.
    Solid information. I like your chart. It appears
    that there is little difference between sucrose and HFCS-55 in terms of fructose: gluctose percentages.
    But, when you sit down and calculate the ratios, a greater difference emerges.
    55%:45% = 55/45 =1.22. This means in every American Coke there is, comapred to glucose, 22% more fructose. In contrast to drinking 5 sugar sweetened Cokes, if you drink 5 HFCS-55 sweetened beverages you have consumed almost an extra can (0.75 can) of pure fructose-sweetened beverage. We’ve been swimming in excess since 1984 when Big Soda, Coke and Pepsi, made the switch. According to the stats, one-third of our ingested HFCS caolories comes via sweetened beverages. Our livers have been inundated with extra fructose.
    I have always been stymied why the CRA deicded on
    HFCS-55? Why not HFCS-50 which would have simulated sucrose. But, for whatever reason the corn chemists selected the HFCS-55 ratio, they forgot or
    overlooked that fact that they were creating a sweetener with a fructose>>gluocse imbalance. I am not at all surprised that we are fat and diabetic.
    Working to get the HFCS-out,
    Cynthia Papierniak, M.S.: