What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener used by food manufacturers. It is formed when corn starch is broken down into corn syrup. Enzymes are added to the corn syrup to convert some of its glucose to fructose. The result is a sweetener that is about 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. It is a less expensive alternative to sugar, and it also serves as a preservative in packaged foods. HFCS is most often associated with regular soda, but if you check food labels, you will find it in pasta sauce, barbeque sauce, ketchup, sweet pickles, jam, bread, crackers, cereals, ice cream, and baked goods.
How Does HFCS Affect Weight?
Many health professionals question if HFCS is linked to the rise in obesity over the past 50 years. It is speculated that fructose alters the hormonal response of the body, resulting in increased body fat storage and appetite when compared to other sugars with the same number of calories. Supporters of HFCS argue that it is chemically similar to table sugar and that the body does not recognize the difference. The topic is still heavily debated with research supporting both sides. As with most theories, more research will eventually reveal if there are associations between HFCS and weight gain.
Should I Eat Foods with HFCS?
HFCS is an added sugar. Reducing added sugar intake is important for health regardless of whether that sugar comes from white table sugar or HFCS. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit added sugar intake to no more than 100 calories (six teaspoons) per day and men to no more than 150 calories (nine teaspoons) per day. Reducing your intake of packaged, processed foods and regular soda will reduce your overall intake of the sweetener. But for a healthy diet and reduced risk of disease, be sure you aren’t replacing HFCS with other added sugars.