High-fructose corn syrup in food and beverages

By Tanya Davis | Published Thursday, June 23, 2011

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It seems like we frequently hear the term ‘high-fructose corn syrup’ (HFCS) in the media. Have you wondered, what is the real truth? Texas AgriLife Nutrition specialist Dr. Mickey Bielamowicz has provided useful information to help us understand the role of high-fructose corn syrup in our food and beverage supply.

HFCS was first introduced to the food and beverage industry in the late 1960s. By 1985, it surpassed sucrose (table sugar) as the most utilized sweetener in America.

HFCS is very popular because it is economical. The thin liquid blends in well with many food products, attracts moisture and keeps products from drying out.

However, HFCS has come under scrutiny in the past decade for being a contributor to America’s obesity problem. Because of this negative press, the food industry began using sucrose in place of the corn product HFCS in many cases, which hurt the corn industry. Research has since become available dismissing the claims that HFCS is linked to obesity, and the corn industry has launched a campaign to win back the favor of the American public.

Research shows that HFCS is not any worse for you than table sugar (sucrose). It is made from corn, a reliable and plentiful natural resource. HFCS is equal in calories (containing about 4 calories per gram) and almost identical in composition to table sugar. It also has nearly the same sweetness factor.

Therefore, the general consensus among researchers is that:

  • HFCS and table sugar are not very different from each other.
  • HFCS does not cause obesity by itself. Rather, a high-fat, high-calorie diet and a low physical activity level can lead to obesity.

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