High Fructose Corn Syrup is not a new thing. It was first introduced back in 1970 and is seen as a cheaper alternative for sugar.
What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
High Fructose Corn Syrup (FHCS), as the name suggests, is made up primarily of corn. The corns are then milled down to form corn starch before being broken down into corn syrup.
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Corn syrup, primarily comprised of glucose, does not really produce as much sweetness as required. This is when enzymes and acids are used to convert the glucose into fructose to produce sweetness.
So, in short, HFCS is a combination of fructose and glucose just like sugar, although to notice the difference is to look at the concentration between the two.
There are several types of HFCS that are used in foods and beverages. The most common type of HFCS is HFCS 55 that consists of 55% fructose & 42% glucose. There is also HFCS 90 which contains 90% of fructose. Additionally, HFCS 42 that contains 42% fructose is commonly used in baked goods and carbonated drinks.
The Pros of HFCS
There have been debates on whether HFCS is actually better for your health compared to sugar or vice versa. Generally, as HFCS and sugar are very similar, it might be better to understand the pros and cons before deciding to consume them.
The pros of HFCS over sugar are:
It costs cheaper
The manufacturing process of HFCS is significantly cheaper than the manufacturing process of sugar.
HFCS also adds texture and freshness to ingredients the way that sugar and other sweeteners cannot. Hence, before HFCS, food & beverage companies normally need extra cost to maintain the freshness of their products.
One of the most advantageous uses of HFCS is that they are readily dissolved in water. In addition to that, HFCS gives texture to foods & beverages. Compared to sugar, HFCS also creates crunchier and superior browning to the foods.
Makes foods & beverages last longer
The high fructose in HFCS also acts as a natural preservative as it makes the foods and beverages last longer. Not exclusively used to baked goods and beverages, high fructose corn syrup is also used in meat products to preserve them.
The Cons of High Fructose Corn Syrup
Although HFCS might seem a great alternative to sugars, nutritionists might beg to differ. There are a few cons to this alternative that is not healthier than sugar.
Easily converts into fat
Fructose is metabolized by the liver and stored into carbohydrates. These carbohydrates in normal amount give your body energy. However, as HFCS is easily found in almost every food and drink that you consume, it is more likely that the daily consumption of HFCS exceeds the normal level.
In large amounts, fructose that is converted into carbs overloads the liver. This is when they are stored as fat instead. The body uses carbs for energy and stores fat when there are not enough carbs.
No essential nutrients
Although many might think that HFCS comes from corn and seemingly more natural, HFCS does not provide more nutrients. Instead, as empty calories, HFCS decreases your nutrient intake daily as there are no calories to process.
Doesn’t make you feel full
Different from sugars, HFCS has the ability to manipulate the body and make you stay hungry. Sugar is processed and broken down into glucose which causes a rise in blood sugar levels.
The body detects this increase in blood sugar levels and produces insulin. The insulin produced releases leptin, a hormone that signals the brain that the body is full.
As HFCS is higher in fructose, the body does not process the fructose as it does glucose. So instead, the fructose is then metabolized and stored as fat. Additionally, no leptin will be produced so the body might be left feeling hungry despite the consumption.
HFCS is linked to the rise of numerous illnesses such as diabetes type 2, heart disease, and cancer. There is no hard evidence yet that proves this link. However, it is always better to stay safe rather than the alternative.
It is recommended to consult a nutritionist or dietician to better understand the pros and cons of HFCS, and whether the consumption is suitable for your body.
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