Wednesday, September 30 2015
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been linked to several health issues, including type 2 diabetes and obesity. Here are the facts on HFCS and how it compares to other sweeteners in terms of its effects on overall health.
What Is HFCS?
Chemically speaking, sucrose or plain table sugar is one part glucose—the simplest sugar that is a component in many carbohydrates—and one part fructose or fruit sugar. Therefore, sucrose is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. This is very similar to the chemical composition of honey (48 percent glucose/52 percent fructose). Corn syrup, a liquid sweetener made from cornstarch, can vary in composition depending on the brand. HFCS, a modified version of standard corn syrup, is similar in chemical composition to table sugar and honey with two forms: HFCS-42 (58 percent glucose/42 percent fructose) and HFCS-55 (45 percent glucose/55 percent fructose).
The media has implicated HFCS as a potential contributor to the U.S. obesity epidemic (White, 2008; Zeratsky, 2005). These inferences have been drawn from studies that show Americans have more than doubled their intake of HFCS over the past 50 years, as this sweetening agent has slowly replaced traditional sucrose in a number of processed foods (White, 2008). In the same time period, the total number of calories consumed from just sugar has also doubled to approximately 400 calories per day. Recommendations from the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest that this level is too high, and that daily sugar intake should be no more than 100 calories for women and 150 calories for men (Fitch and Keim, 2012; Zeratsky, 2005).