The sweetener high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made from corn syrup, which is processed from corn.
It’s mostly utilized in the United States to sweeten processed meals and soft drinks.
It’s made up of both fructose and glucose, just like conventional table sugar (sucrose).
When the price of ordinary sugar was high and maize prices were low due to government subsidies in the late 1970s, it became a popular sweetener (1).
Though its popularity soared between 1975 and 1985, it has since fallen significantly as artificial sweeteners have grown in prominence (1).
In the United States, high-fructose corn syrup is a sugar-based sweetener found in processed foods and beverages. It’s made up of the simple sugars glucose and fructose, much like ordinary sugar.
Is corn syrup a worse alternative to sugar?
High fructose corn syrup has been shown in studies to enhance hunger and induce obesity more than ordinary sugar. “High fructose corn syrup also relates to diabetes, inflammation, high triglycerides, and a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” Dr. Hyman explains. He claims that it causes an increase in total fat in the liver, which affects over 90 million Americans.
What is high fructose corn syrup?
Corn is a versatile grain that can be used for a variety of purposes, including the production of several types of sweets. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), also known as “corn sugar,” is the most popular sweetener manufactured from corn. In the United States, HFCS can be found in a variety of foods and beverages.
The remaining sugars in high fructose corn syrup are mostly glucose and higher sugars, with 42 percent or 55 percent fructose. Table sugar (sucrose), which is made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose, is essentially equivalent to HFCS. Glucose is one of the most basic types of sugar and is used to make most carbs. Fructose is a basic sugar that can be found in a variety of foods, including fruits and honey.
How does HFCS compare to other sweeteners?
According to studies, there isn’t much of a difference between HFCS and other sweeteners. It provides calories to foods and drinks in the same way as sugar, fruit juice concentrate, and honey do. Per gram, they all contribute the same quantity of calories.
Scientific experts and nutritionists agree that HFCS and sucrose are biologically comparable and that all sweets should be used in moderation. For further information, see this page on Best Food Facts or the link below.
Is HFCS natural?
High fructose corn syrup isn’t as refined as people think, and “regular sugar” or sucrose isn’t as pure as they think. Both sugar and HFCS are generated from plants, with sugar coming from sugar cane or sugar beets and HFCS from maize.
The FDA has issued a letter claiming that high fructose corn syrup is a natural product. The FDA reviewed the manufacturing method and determined that the technique and procedures were quite similar to those used in the production of regular sugar from sugar beets or sugar cane (both are processed to make the white table sugar we recognize). As a result, HFCS can be categorized as natural according to the FDA’s criteria. Check out this page at Best Food Facts for more information.
Is corn syrup bad for you?
However, too much added sugar of any kind not only high-fructose corn syrup has been associated to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and elevated triglyceride levels. All of these factors increase your chances of developing heart disease.
Is cane sugar or corn syrup the worst?
The return of pumpkin spice signals the start of the Halloween season. While drinking a PSL is more about the feelings than anything else and who can say no to cheap Halloween candy a key component of both is worth thinking about before you grab another: sugar.
Sugar is found in a variety of sweetened beverages, including soda, syrupy coffees, and sweets. It isn’t healthy for you, but you probably already knew that. Recent research, on the other hand, adds a new reason to limit sugar intake and may cause you to reconsider the sweet stuff.
The lesser of two evils, high-fructose corn syrup, has an unofficial reputation. Natural sugar is still terrible for you, but it’s better than processed corny junk.
That isn’t exactly accurate, according to a research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in July. Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup both enhance your risk factors for chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes.
Sugar-sweetened beverages, whether made with natural sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, have been linked to reduced insulin sensitivity and fatty liver, according to the researchers.
Perhaps you believe that pure cane sugar is superior to high-fructose corn syrup in processed foods and beverages. However, according to this study, they both pose the same danger.
The study looked at several groups of persons who drank a cane sugar-sweetened beverage, a high-fructose corn syrup-sweetened beverage, and an aspartame-sweetened beverage, conducted by Desiree Sigala, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis. The risk of chronic diseases increased regardless of whether a person ingested cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
What you must first understand is the distinction between sucrose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup. There’s one more -ose to toss in there to answer those questions: glucose.
Corn syrup is used instead of sugar for a variety of reasons.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been identified as one of the primary causes of the obesity epidemic in the United States in recent years. Is science, on the other hand, truly supportive of this viewpoint? We wanted to take a closer look at how HFCS compares to other types of highly refined sugar before painting it as the dietary villain, given all of the public shaming and campaigns against it.
Sugar can be present in a variety of foods, including fructose in fruits and lactose in milk. Added sugar, on the other hand, originates from a variety of places and is used to enhance the flavor of your food. Natural sugar sources such as bee honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup are examples. Others, such as sugar cane and sugar beets for white and brown sugar, stevia, and corn syrup, must be highly processed.
Sugars are carbohydrate molecules that are broken down into glucose (blood sugar) and used as fuel by your body. Simple carbohydrates are easily broken down and might cause a surge in blood sugar levels, but complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and absorb. According to the American Heart Association, added sugar should be limited to 25-37 grams per day, or around 100-150 calories. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans go well above this recommendation.
High fructose corn syrup is a liquid sweetener that is commonly used as a substitute for table sugar in a variety of meals and beverages (sucrose). HFCS does not need to be dissolved in water like sucrose because it is a liquid. HFCS was first used in foods and beverages in the late 1960s, and its use has grown tremendously since then, owing to its ease of production and use. Sucrose is obtained from sugar cane and sugar beets, both of which are largely farmed in equatorial regions, hence its price and availability are subject to significant fluctuations due to political and climate instability. Corn, on the other hand, is more widely available and less expensive in the United States.
Foods and beverages that include a lot of added sugar of any kind have very little nutritional or fiber value. Non-diet soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, sports drinks, cake, sweets, pastry, syrup, fruit-flavored drinks, fruit juices, and other items fall into this category. Empty calories can be found in products with a lot of added sugars, but they can also be found in items with a lot of saturated fat and alcohol. Sugar may be added to sauces, soups, and a variety of other common foods.
IS HFCS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SUGARS?
The composition of HFCS, which differs from regular corn syrup and table sugar, has caused a lot of confusion. Corn syrup is 100 percent glucose, as stated in Table 1. Sucrose and HFCS are both made up of glucose and fructose, with only a 5% difference in their amounts, making the label “high-fructose” deceptive.
Regardless of these tiny variations, all dietary sugars have four calories per gram, regardless of source. Because the fructose/glucose levels in HFCS and table sugar are so comparable, the body doesn’t notice the difference.
SUGAR IS SUGAR
An report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010 claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is a direct cause of obesity. The correlation between rising obesity rates and HFCS use was examined in the article. While the link appeared to be strong at first, the study was unable to confirm that HFCS is the cause of obesity. Obesity is linked to the consumption of high fructose corn syrup, although this is not a cause and effect relationship.
The more pressing concern is whether obesity is caused by the daily consumption of more sugar calories than ever before (combined with an overall lack of adequate physical activity to expend those calories). Between 1971 and 2010, the average American increased their daily caloric intake from 2150 to 2700 calories, a 25 percent increase. We didn’t raise our calorie expenditure through physical exercise by the same amount to offset that increase, it’s safe to conclude. In fact, only approximately 20% of adults in the United States today fulfill the minimum physical activity recommendations set by the government.
Despite popular belief, scientists have discovered nothing special about HFCS that makes it any more obesity-promoting than any other sweetener. While the obesity rate in the United States has risen from 16 percent to 20 percent, 25 percent to 31 percent, 31 percent to 36 percent in 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015, our overall intake of HFCS in the United States has remained stable since around 2000.
In the end, high fructose corn syrup is no more or less harmful than any other additional sugar. To reduce their intake of empty calories, most Americans should limit their intake of all added sugars. Fruit intake is still suggested because it is high in fiber and a variety of other nutrients. While eight ounces of 100% fruit juice counts as a serving of fruit, you should be aware that, given the choice, a piece of fruit is preferred to a cup of 100% fruit juice due to the fruit’s fiber content and the juice’s greater sugar content. As a general guideline, if we want to lose weight in the long run, we should eat more nutrient-dense foods and limit empty calories while simultaneously increasing our physical activity.
*According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, people should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per week, as well as resistance training on at least two days per week.
J. S. White, J. S. White, J. S. White, J (2008). High-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it isn’t 88(supplement):1716S-1721S, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
G. A. Bray, G. A. Bray, G. A. Bray (2004). High-fructose corn syrup use in beverages may contribute to the obesity epidemic. 537-543 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Why don’t firms use sugar instead of corn syrup?
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The article comes to a surprising conclusion that I didn’t see coming (spoiler alert). When the beverage giant acceded to Gay Mullins’ demand, the eccentric Oregonian who launched a fight to restore the ancient formula was unsatisfied. Mullins held a press conference shortly after the reinstatement of Coke Classic to complain that it tasted different from the Coke he remembered since it was prepared with corn syrup. According to Murphy, he claimed that he “would not rest until Coke was once again manufactured with real sugar.”
Mullins’ “shift to high-fructose agitation” was a disaster, much like the New Coke he helped kill. Five years before to the New Coke catastrophe, Coca-Cola had begun adding high-fructose corn syrup to the mix. The conversion was complete by 1984, a year before New Coke’s debut: sugar out, HFCS in. Murphy writes, “Mullins hoped that by joining the pile-on, he could persuade the trade group to cut him a piece of the profits.” Mullins admitted, “We were interested in being backed by the Sugar Association.”
How did high-fructose corn syrup replace sugar as the preferred sweetener in the beverage industry?
The standard version, as told by Julia Thompson of the Huffington Post in 2013, goes: “Nearly 30 years ago, Coca-Cola switched from sugar to high-fructose corn syrup to sweeten America’s beloved carbonated soft drink.” Because the government subsidized corn, the sweet syrup it produces became a more inexpensive choice for the beverage firm.” So, maize subsidies resulted in cheap corn, which led to a corn-derived sweetener that was less expensive than sugar. HFCS has effectively taken over the soda business.
While corn subsidies played a part in the story, another, lesser-known government intervention was perhaps far more important. The story, which I first learned about in Richard Manning’s outstanding 2005 book Against the Grain, began in early 1971, when a big, unexpected sale of US grain to the Soviet Union caused a spike in maize prices, which led to a massive increase in corn planting. Corn prices had fallen to earth by the mid-1970s, but farmers, bolstered by subsidies, continued to grow “fencerow to fencerow,” as then-agriculture secretary Earl Butz phrased it. As a result, there is tremendous corn overproduction. (The current corn surplus followed a similar trajectory to the ethanol-fueled boom of 2006-2012.)
Corn-processing behemoths like Archer Daniels Midland had unlimited access to low-cost maize, but they could only profit from it if they could discover new markets for corn products. The business came up with two huge ideas: ethanol, which was intended to undermine the massive gasoline market, and high-fructose corn syrup, which was intended to disrupt Big Sugar’s grip on the soda industry.
Both utilize a “wet-milling” procedure that isolates corn’s starch, so they’re connected. Ethanol is made by fermenting starch and distilling it into pure alcohol. To manufacture HFCS, you add an enzyme as starch, which converts some of the glucose into fructose, resulting in a sweetener with a similar sweetness profile to sugar. A single wet-milling plant could produce both, and ADM began investing heavily in wet-milling in the early 1970s, when high gasoline and sugar costs provided opportunities for lower-cost alternatives.
Despite political maneuverings that resulted in huge production subsidies, Andreas’ ethanol boom didn’t materialize until the mid-aughts, owing to a drop in gasoline prices following dizzying highs in the mid-’70s. High-fructose corn syrup had a rocky start as well. James Bovard of the libertarian Cato Institute notes in a seminal 1995 paper on ADM’s famed ability to get what it needs from Andreas’ pals in government:
Around 1974, ADM invested extensively in corn fructose production, just as global sugar prices peaked. Sugar prices fell from 65 cents to 8 cents per pound after ADM invested extensively to boost its capacity to produce high-fructose corn syrup ninefold.
The reason for this was that low-cost international imports had lowered the price of sugar. As a result, ADM was unable to compete by producing high-fructose corn syrup at a low enough cost. ADM overcame this stumbling block not in the lab, but in the political arena. Andreas devised an innovative scheme, similar to that of a Midwestern Machiavelli, to assist Florida sugarcane growers in persuading Congress to impose a quota on foreign-produced sugar.
Andreas got his wish in 1981. President Ronald Reagan, another strong buddy of the ADM head, passed a law imposing high quotas on imported sugar, causing the domestic price of sugar to soon rise to twice the price on world markets. HFCS became the less expensive sweetener overnight, and the quota assured that the domestic sugar price remained high. According to Bovard, both Coke and Pepsi soon increased their use of HFCS.
Both businesses publicly revealed the transition in 1984, a year before New Coke was released. According to the New York Times, a Wall Street executive hailed the development as “great news for the maize millers.” “They’ve spent a lot of money over the last decade enhancing their products to secure these approvals, and now they’re going to get paid,” he continued. The industry’s prospects for next year are promising, and 1986 promises to be exceptional.”
Corn sweetener was widely used. Take note of the significant increase in the first half of the 1980s:
HFCS was still popular a decade later, according to Bovard, and Archer Daniels Midland was the “driving force behind the sugar lobby in this year’s struggle for the future of the sugar program,” with the business “heavily bankrolling” Big Sugar’s ad campaign defending the quotas.
Andreas retired in 1999 and passed away in 2016, leaving behind awe-inspiring obituaries. Sugar quotas, which he pushed for, are still in force. Corn syrup’s star has faded in recent years. Because of its association with empty calories and weight gain (there’s little proof it’s any worse than sugar on those fronts), the processed food sector has mostly shied away from HFCS. Despite the fact that cola sales have been dropping for years, Coke and Pepsi continue employ high fructose corn syrup in their signature products.
Gay Mullins, the star of Murphy’s New Coke saga, brought a massive soft drink brand to its knees, but he was no match for Andreas, a “secretive, freewheeling Minnesota businessman” who “trades soybeans, buys banks, and finances politiciansall with apparently equal zest,” according to a 1978 New York Times piece.
Is there a difference between Karo and corn syrup?
Karo syrup is a well-known brand of corn syrup that is made from maize-derived corn starch. It is a concentrated solution of various sugars generated from maize starch, such as glucose (dextrose). Corn syrup has a naturally moderate sweet taste due to the many sugars it contains.
Karo corn syrup is offered in two different flavors: light and dark. Karo light corn syrup is a colorless, clear liquid with a little sweet flavor. It’s made consisting of a corn syrup mixture scented with salt and vanilla.
Karo dark corn syrup has a dark brown hue and is made comprised of corn syrup plus a little percentage of refiners’ syrup, a form of molasses that gives dark corn syrup its dark color and flavor. Other chemicals, such as caramel flavor, salt, sodium benzoate (a preservative), and caramel color, are used to give it its particular flavor.
Is corn syrup a sweeter alternative to sugar?
Corn syrup is the most commonly used sugar substitute in processed foods. This sweet chemical is used in large quantities by manufacturers to sweeten everything from soft beverages to canned meals to sweets. Have you tried Coca-Cola Life, Pepsi True, or Berghoff or Goose Island Root Beer, all of which are prepared with real sugar? When you compare a drink sweetened with corn syrup to one sweetened with cane sugar, you’ll find that the one sweetened with real sugar is significantly sweeter. Sucrose (table sugar) is actually 2-4 times sweeter than corn syrup.
Corn syrup is less sweet than table sugar for what reason? The sugar molecules in table sugar are sweeter to our tongues than the sugar molecules in corn syrup. Corn syrup is formed of pure glucose, whereas table sugar is made of two-part sugar chains consisting of one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule. Table sugar is sweeter than corn syrup because fructose is sweeter than glucose.
Corn sugars also don’t start out sweet. They’re found in the form of starches, which are lengthy, branching molecules that aren’t tasty at all. In truth, carbohydrates make up the majority of bread, pasta, and cereal, and they’re not sweet unless you add table sugar! Because individual glucose molecules are wrapped up in lengthy starches, your tongue is unable to “see” them. As a result, it’s as if there’s no sugar present for them, and so no sweet pleasure for your brain. Manufacturers must break down these lengthy chains into tiny parts that your tongue can detect in order to make cornstarch tasty.
Corn syrup is made by treating cornstarch with acid, which breaks it down into smaller chains of 3-5 glucose molecules. These chains aren’t particularly sweet at this point, but with a little more time in acid, they break down even more into single glucose molecules. Finally, something familiar to your taste buds!
By manipulating how much the starch molecules break down, manufacturers can control how thick and sweet the syrup becomes: the more short chains left behind, the thicker and less sweet the syrup becomes.
What do food makers do when they need a sweetener that isn’t as sweet as sucrose but is less expensive than corn syrup? They turn corn syrup into high-fructose corn syrup, the sweetener that everyone despises (HFCS). Chemists transform glucose into fructose by putting corn syrup through a sophisticated chemical procedure to make HFCS. HFCS is sweeter than ordinary corn syrup because fructose is sweeter than glucose. Because of its low cost and sweetness, HFCS was the sweetener of choice in most prepared foods until recently. However, despite this benefit, HFCS has been linked to obesity and heart disease (primarily because the obesity epidemic in the US spread at the same time has the use of HFCS). However, just because two events occur at the same time does not entail that one caused the other, and it turns out that there is no conclusive proof that HFCS is more harmful than table sugar. If you need something sweet, nutritionists advocate using non-caloric artificial sweeteners like Splenda (learn more here).
If you have any additional questions about sugar and whether or not it is healthful, consult the American Heart Association’s FAQ.