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Why High Fructose Corn Syrup Gets a Bad Wrap
In recent years, American food culture has shifted toward favoring all natural foods, due largely to an assumption that artificial or “processed” foods can cause obesity and lead to serious health conditions. Among the fervor, however, some foods have been unfairly blacklisted, and perhaps none of them more so than high fructose corn syrup.
While it would be difficult to stake the claim that high fructose corn syrup will not have ill effects on a person’s health if enough is consumed, there is little-to-no evidence that suggests it is any more damaging than regular beet sugar.
High fructose corn syrup began popping up in all kinds of different foods in the late 70s and 80s, mostly thanks to the fact that it is extremely inexpensive to produce. The main reason why Americans tend to think of high fructose corn syrup as unnatural is because a chemical process is used to convert corn starch into fructose and glucose. But plenty of gray area exists around the designation of HFCS as “artificial”, especially since it is derived from a natural source. In fact, the FDA ruled that the sweetener can be labeled as “natural” on food products containing HFCS so long as the chemicals used in the process do not come in direct contact with the syrup.
While obesity and diabetes rates have risen dramatically since the surge in foods that use high fructose corn syrup, a number of other factors, such as the rise in fast food culture, have contributed to these statistics as well.
Still, in a study by the Journal of Clinical Investigation, fructose was shown to cause visceral fat—the type of fat that can adhere to organs, leading to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes – at a greater rate than glucose, indicating that HFCS is worse for consumers than glucose products.
So, while large quantities of high fructose corn syrup can be fattening, and American consumers may do well to find a healthier alternative, it is widely unfounded that harmful effects can arise from the syrup because it is “unnatural.” In fact, its effects are very much on par with other types of completely natural sugars.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.