Corn Cousions and Other Sweet Relatives
Posted: January 9, 2012
HFCS is not high in fructose compared with table sugar (sucrose), honey, molasses, agave and maple syrup. All of these caloric sweeteners are half fructose and half glucose, very roughly speaking, and are almost pure carbohydrate.
The cost of HFCS is much less than sugar and it mixes well with other ingredients, but its greatest advantage is stability in beverages, where it is the sweetener of choice. Table sugar often breaks down in acidic products such as soft drinks and juice blends, as well as when stored in hot climates. This changes the sweetness of the product, resulting in poor control of product taste.
Concerns have been expressed about HFCS. Research shows there is no difference between consuming HFCS or table sugar in the following effects: glucose and insulin levels, triglycerides, hormones affecting appetite, weight gain, hunger, satiety and appetite. Many of the concerns with HFCS may actually be attributed to higher intake of fructose, which occurs with liberal consumption of added sweeteners of all the types discussed above. Since 1966, the amount of added caloric sweeteners (not sugar substitutes) in the U.S. food supply increased 27%, from 113 pounds per person per year to 143 pounds per person per year in 2005, with about half the increase due to increased consumption of soft drinks and fruit beverages.
Fructose is metabolized by the body differently from glucose. Fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion as does glucose, and insulin secretion tends to depress appetite. Glucose results in satiety signals to the brain that help control appetite. Glucose increases leptin which inhibits food intake and increases energy expenditure and decreases ghrelin, decreasing hunger and appetite. These appetite regulating hormones are not affected by fructose, resulting in poor appetite regulation and over-consumption of food.
Compared to glucose, consumption of excess fructose increases the formation of fatty compounds in the liver, leading to abnormal levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Some human and animal studies have shown direct associations between diets high in fructose and obesity, the metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and gout, though there is also some conflicting evidence especially regarding blood pressure. These effects are not surprising considering the main source of excess fructose is from caloric sweeteners, which tend to increase caloric intake and result in weight gain. The small amounts of fructose naturally present in fruits and vegetables are not linked to these detrimental effects.
The source of added sugars is of less concern than the consumption of excess sweeteners in general. Sweetened beverages are a large contributor to this excess. The body does not seem to compensate for the extra calories from beverages by reducing total caloric consumption as it does with soups and other foods. One positive step you can take, in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is to reduce your intake of added sugars – choose water and unsweetened beverages more often!
*Some factual information for this column was obtained from: Moeller, S. M., Fryhofer, S. A., Osbahr III, A. J., and Robinowitz, C. B., the Effects of High Fructose Syrup, Council on Science and Public Health, American Medical Assn., J.Am.Coll.Nutr.2009 28:619-626.
Rayna Cooper is a Registered Dietitian and Family & Consumer Sciences/Nutrition Educator serving Penn State Extension in Adams County. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. Penn State Extension in Adams County is located at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, PA 17325, phone 334-6271, email email@example.com.