Have you ever looked at a product’s label and read what is in it? Well, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) might give you a reason to double-check the ingredient list of your favorite food or beverage. High-fructose corn syrup is a product ingredient we all should get to know about.
Why do manufacturers use High-Fructose Corn Syrup?
Firstly, this substance allows food to have a longer shelf-life without compromising taste. Why was it developed? Until the 1960s, food was sweetened exclusively with sucrose, but then the food industry developed high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
It’s much sweeter than sucrose and glucose – and a great deal cheaper than sugar produced from sugar cane. The use of HFCS in the US skyrocketed; by 19985, sucrose consumption had dropped by 50%, while the average HFCS intake increased by 42%.
Unfortunately by 2004, Americans, particularly children and adolescents, were already consuming an average of nearly 50g of fructose a day.
Where is HFCS found?
High-fructose corn syrup is found in everyday food items. Many people, especially parents are unaware of this ingredient. This is mostly due to the fact that labelling laws differ by country and so often food manufacturers do not have to highlight the specific impact of an ingredient on a person’s health.
You will find HFCS in these every day items:
- Salad dressing;
- Ice cream;
- Sweets; and
Why is it so bad for our health and longevity?
HFCS is made up of pure fructose and sugar, combined with a variety of toxic chemicals. This is because many of the chemical contaminants used in the manufacturing process, such as chloralkali, end up in the syrup. What you may not know is that chloralkali contains mercury. As a result, trace amounts of mercury are found in foods containing high-fructose corn syrup. If these foods are consumed frequently, this heavy metal can build up in the body, causing health problems.
Eating too much HCFS can also cause hepatic steatosis (fatty liver). With 90 million Americans currently living with hepatic steatosis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has noted that food that contains HFCS can lead to obesity.
The researchers say that the tastier the food is, the more likely you are to overeat it. If eaten in high amounts, HFCS will lead to diabesity (obesity and Type-2 diabetes). While HFCS is not banned in any countries, Europe and the UK have restricted the products and placed them under quota limitations.
What is the healthy alternative?
If you want to stay healthy, lose weight and get rid of chronic disease, replace this ingredient with natural sugars, such as honey and date sugar, or sugar alcohols such as xylitol.
There are a number of health-conscious brands that offer healthy alternatives to HCFS to your favorite snacks, so you won’t have to compromise on taste.
The key is always to read labels and ensure that you know what you’re putting into your body – and the effect it will have on your health.
1. Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar: https://ajcn.nutrition.org/article/S0002-9165(22)03883-7/fulltext