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High fructose corn syrup: not as evil as we thought?

I’m sure you’ve seen it. The commercial with a bunch of little kids on stage performing a third or fourth-grade play for an audience full of parents, dressed as green, red and orange vegetables and fruits. Everything is sweet and cute until suddenly, out of the corner of your eye (or screen) you notice the oozing, gross blob of a costume, known only as the recently infamous high fructose corn syrup.

If you’ve shopped for a loaf of bread recently, you probably noticed how much bread companies, at least, are pushing the whole anti-high fructose corn syrup movement, as many bread wrappers feature prominently bold text reading, “No high fructose corn syrup!” I guess that’s to make their consumers absolutely sure, without a doubt, that they’re using real sugar and not that bad, evil sugar pretender also known as HFCS.

Well, here’s a kicker. According to PR Newswire, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), led by Executive Director Rick Berman, just launched a million-dollar ad campaign in an attempt to show the world exactly how wrong it has been in falsely accusing our now infamously famous cheaper sweetener.

This nonprofit group blames the Sugar Association, saying that leading nutrition experts say the two are nutritionally equal.

Is this true? What about all the hubbub that’s been circulating? The segments on Oprah featuring real, live doctors, experts in the medical and nutritional fields, swearing up and down that high fructose corn syrup, a cheap, knock-off sugar substitute, is one of the worst ingredients any food product could contain? The countless commercials on TV and the radio about the evils of this thing that’s in just about everything? Or all the movements and changes that have been made in the food industry to accommodate all of these claims?

With all of this seeming evidence to back up the nightmarish story of the evil monster known as high fructose corn syrup, how could this new development be true? Would the food industry lie to us? Would the media lie to us? Would Oprah lie to us?

Well, as far as the article publishing most of this “breaking” news information goes, the only portion that makes any assertion to the contrary of what the world has been seemingly convinced of over the past year comes directly from the mouth of Mr. Berman, “The public will soon understand that they have been misled into thinking that high fructose corn syrup is handled differently by the body than other sugars. What people need to understand is that corn, beet and cane sugar are all processed. And they all contain the same amount of fructose. One is no more natural than another.”

Having looked at all the recent developments and such, this whole thing leaves me with but one question: If the two are the same, why would companies that use sugar to sweeten their products buy the one that costs significantly more than the other? Don’t most things today boil down to money anyway? Why would all of these companies be spending all this money to make such a big change if it’s not worth the time and the dollars?

I don’t know. You tell me.

1 comment so far

Mr. Berman can look at the name High Fructose Corn Syrup and see the difference between it, Fructose, and Corn Syrup. Glucose and Fructose are made up of the same chemical structure but in different arrangements and are used in the body in different ways. Glucose is managed by insulin and is utilized by the vast majority of tissues in the body. Fructose doesn’t rely on insulin and is largely left in the liver for metabolism. The difference here is pretty key, because blood cells only use glucose for fuel and the brain has a preference for glucose (it can use ketones from broken down triglycerides, but this increase body acidity by lowering pH).

Fructose and Glucose both have the same caloric impact, but with the essential nature of glucose to many tissues and the conditionally essential use of fructose (limited to working tissues mainly) there is a substantial difference in how they can affect you in the long run.

HFCS give a higher ratio of fructose to glucose than normal sucrose does and leaves more potential for triglyceride conversion in the liver due to excess energy. The reason HFCS is terrible is because of the large consumption in inactive individuals. HFCS in active individuals and athletic populations has very little negative effect because of the caloric expenditure and the periods of EPOC those who work out on a regular basis experience.

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