In the late 1960s, high-fructose corn syrup was introduced to the food and beverage industry. By 1985, it surpassed sucrose, or table sugar, as the most used sweetener in America.
High-fructose corn syrup is a popular sweetener because it is economical. It is a thin liquid that blends well with many food products. It attracts moisture and keeps products from drying out. It is concentrated, which helps keep bacteria from growing, and its use supports America’s corn industry and farmers.
In the past decade, HFCS has been blamed for contributing to the obesity problem in America. With the negative press, the food industry began using sucrose in place of HFCS in many cases, which in turn 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.
You may be wondering if HFCS is really all that bad. The answer is no, HFCS is not any worse for you than table sugar. HFCS is made from corn, which is a reliable and plentiful natural resource. It is a nutritive sweetening agent that is composed of the carbohydrate units, glucose and fructose. HFCS is equal in calories (containing about 4 calories per gram) and it is almost identical in composition to table sugar. HFCS also has nearly the same sweetness factor as table sugar.
Among researchers, the general consensus 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.
- HFCS consumption does not predict whether a person will be obese or not.
- Taking HFCS out of the diet will not significantly decrease obesity rates.
As with any food, Americans should eat foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in moderation. Eating a well-rounded diet and including lots of physical activity is the best solution to combat obesity