Saturday, January 24, 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

I was going to type about hfcs but Stoneyfield Farms sent me an email with all the info, so I just copied and pasted it to my blog. I am not endorsing the company, but I do agree with the findings. You can find all kinds of information about this and other food additives, if you just search on the google sites. Any website associated with the Corn Growers would not give you accurate information. The Corn Refiners Assoc. commercials on tv currently, are full of untruths. HFCS is not the same as sugar and it is not natural in any way. They are trying to sell you a product and are not going to tell you its unhealthy or unnatural for you. What they will try to do is tell you how bad everything else is, in hopes that you will switch to them. A good book to read is "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. She rips the food industry apart and tells the truth about the "food" that you are eating. I put food in parentheses because the packaged and boxed stuff we are eating is so lacking in nutrients that it has to be enriched and its not really food anymore. the more processing a food has, the less it is like the original product. It would be much better for all of us if we ate food the way the Lord created it and not so much of the mess that people have turned it into. This is what the whole foods movement is about. There is lots of information out there, if you just look for it. Then you can decide what is right and best for your family. I won't try to convince anyone that this is the best for everyone. But also, don't try to convince me or the kids that hfcs is fine, this is what we have chosen for our familyand my kids have become avid label readers.

Now after saying all of that, we are not there yet. We have switched to lots of organic food. At least it doesn't have the additives. We love to go to Chick Fil A and get lunch, or drive through Wendy's and get a burger. And the kids still get the occasional soft drink, but these are not everyday happenings, just a special treat. But we have made some major changes in our lives and our diets.


High Fructose Corn Syrup - natural or not?
Vicki Koenig, MS, RD, CDN

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Hi Fructose Corn SyrupWhile health professionals and researchers debate whether High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is or isn’t unhealthy, many are also debating whether HFCS is natural or not. Is it healthy? Is it natural? Let me shed some light on this.

HFCS is not found in Nature
HFCS, widely used as an inexpensive sweetener, is made from genetically-modified corn. It’s processed by 3 different enzymes to take it from cornstarch to a liquid sweetener. One or two of the enzymes are produced by a bacterium which is also genetically engineered. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that HFCS that’s processed with synthetic fixing agents is not natural. Some HFCS may not have contact with these agents and can be called natural. Still, it’s hard to think of HFCS as natural after its complex processing using enzymes and acids. There is also no organic form of HFCS available because organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs in agricultural practices.

Since Stonyfield Farm uses only natural and organic ingredients in its products, they’ve selected naturally milled organic sugar, also known as evaporated cane juice, as its natural sweetener. Naturally milled organic sugar is a much less processed form of cane sugar. The processing uses less energy and produces less waste than refined white sugar or HFCS, so it has some additional environmental benefits too.

Less sugar in Stonyfield yogurt than you might think
One of the most common questions I get asked as Stonyfield’s Nutritionist is “how can you put so much sugar in your yogurt?” It’s important to note that the amount of sugar listed on the nutrition label is not all added sugar. The amount listed also includes the milk sugar lactose (a natural part of milk), natural sugar present in any fruit used, and added sugar. That’s why 6 oz of plain yogurt has 12 grams of sugar, yet no added sugar. It's the lactose!

HFCS - similar to Sugar?
Previous research suggested HFCS was possibly responsible for the U.S. obesity epidemic. However, new 2008 research indicates this is not true. HFCS and sugar are similar in chemical composition. They both contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose in similar amounts. They can both be found in nutritionally-deplete products like soda, candy, juice drinks, jams, ketchup and packaged baked goods. Is it inherently the sweetener, the foods themselves or the overall amount of sweetener in the diet? The source of sugar does not seem to be the issue. The truth is we eat too much. The increase in HFCS in the U.S. diet mirrors the rise in obesity but likely did not cause it. Even IF HFCS is metabolized similarly to sugar, it doesn't mean I recommend it.

Sugar isn’t all bad
Sugar can be used to make healthy foods more appealing. For many, added sugar in healthy food like yogurt makes the taste enjoyable. Otherwise, they might not eat it and get the benefits of calcium, protein and probiotics. If you’re going have a sweetened food, it’s best to choose a naturally-sweetened, healthy one. That’s why I recommend that you avoid foods that contain HFCS.



  1. Hi,
    My google alert for HFCS picked up your article.
    I realize there are different grades of HFCS,
    HFCS-42 and HFCS-55. But I disagree that HFCS
    and sugar are compositionally similar.
    HFCS-55 is the predominant sweetener for most beverages (all national brands of soda, lemonades, flavored teas, and ironically, most sports quenchers.) Although the ratio of saccharides in HFCS-55 (55%fructose:45glucose)appears to be similar to sucrose
    (50%fructose:50%glucose), it really is not. 55/45=1.22. That means that everytime a teenager chugs a Coke or a Pepsi (bottled in the US)his liver is receiving the health "benefits"
    of 22% extra fructose, compared to glucose. The metabolic danger of excess fructose over time has been well documented. What really irks me is this: I'm just a midwestern piano teacher who likes math, and I have arrived at these calculations. One would think that the sugar chemists at Cargill and Archer-Daniels-Midland have the same data. They are well aware that their industrial sweetener is fructose heavy.

  2. Cynthia! Thanks for the comments. My personal opinion is that all HFCS is bad, but it is very hard to totally avoid it. But, we are trying!