Food producers have a myriad of tricks up their sleeves in hiding the fact that dangerous food ingredients lurk in products that consumers would otherwise chose not to buy.
This has happened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) since various scientific studies linked it to obesity, diabetes, and autism.
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HFCS is a highly-processed chemical sweetener used in many processed foods, including breads, cookies, candy, condiments, and soft drinks. HFCS extends the shelf life of products, and it is often cheaper than sugar, which are the main reasons why manufacturers like it. But HFCS has gotten a bad rep, considering the circumstantial evidence that links it to various metabolic diseases, so Big Food and the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) decided to get creative.
HFCS is sub-categorized based on its fructose content. The “standard” HFCS – HFCS 42 or HFCS 55 – contains either 42 or 55 percent fructose. The new term “fructose” is now being used when foods contain the ingredient previously called HFCS-90, which has 90 percent fructose. Identifying HFCS-90 as “fructose” in the ingredients list gives food makers a green light to use statements such as “Contains No High Fructose Corn Syrup” or “No HFCS” on the product label, thus misleading buyers.
Here is CRA’s take:
“A third product, HFCS-90, is sometimes used in natural and ‘light’ foods, where very little is needed to provide sweetness. Syrups with 90% fructose will not state high fructose corn syrup on the label [anymore], they will state ‘fructose’ or ‘fructose syrup’.”
Scientific Discoveries about High Fructose Corn Syrup and Health
There’s a growing body of scientific evidence linking HFCS to metabolic disorders. Here is what scientists have discovered about the potential impact of HFCS on human health:
“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests.” “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.” – Bart Hoebel, psychology professor at Princeton University (source: Princeton.edu)
“The study adds to a growing body of scientific literature that indicates HFCS consumption may result in negative health consequences distinct from and more deleterious than natural sugar.” – Dr. Michael I. Goran (source: Huffington Post)
“Consumption of HFCS may lead to mineral imbalances, including Zn [Zinc], Ca [Calcium] and P [Phosphorus] loss and Cu [Copper] gain and is a potential source of inorganic mercury exposure.” – Dufault et al. Clinical Epigenetics, 2012
“Data show that consumption of added sugars, particularly HFCS-55, negatively impacts hippocampal function, metabolic outcomes, and neuroinflammation when consumed in excess during the adolescent period of development.” – Hsu et al. Hippocampus, 2014
Although there has been no direct link established between HFCS and diabetes, obesity and autism, the circumstantial evidence that HFCS is a partial culprit in these widespread diseases cannot be overlooked.
It’s All About Marketing
Food producers aren’t new to deceiving the public to make their foods appear healthier than they really are. They will continue to do what they can to sell more products, even if that means re-categorizing and renaming synthetic ingredients. It’s called marketing, and the food industry spends billions on it each year to ensure that you hear and see the right message to make you comfortable with all the chemicals that end up in your food. Food marketers hide the reality under attractive labels with pretty pictures and tag lines such as “100% Pure” or “All natural”, making the ingredients list and nutritional information difficult to read and hidden in the far corners or back sides of packages.
“In the United States, food ingredient information is written for regulators and scientists, not for the average consumer.” – Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder of the nonprofit advocacy group Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
It is up to you to stop being willfully ignorant to the marketing tricks of Big Food companies. Always read the ingredients list and familiarize yourself with food brands which demonstrate that they care about offering real, living foods, versus supporting companies that make food-like products full of synthetic additives such as HFCS-90.