In the diet sugar is always depicted as the bad guy but the truth is we need sugar for fuel. But, of course, there is a limit and no more than 3% to 8% of our calories should be from sugar. Does it matter what kind of sugar is part of this intake?
There is a great deal of disagreement about HFCS, whether it is healthy or not. There are advertisements saying it is bad, as well as commercials suggesting that HFCS is not bad (They are not saying it is good for you they are implying that it is not bad). After searching around and reading both sides of the argument this is what I came up with; it’s complicated. HFCS is not as bad as it was made to look but it is still bad.
High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is a sugar made from corn. When added to food HFCS enhances the flavors, preserves the texture, provides moisture, and lengthens the shelf life. Table sugar, sucrose, and HFCS have the same amount of calories per gram. HFCS is composed of nearly half glucose and half fructose. HFCS contains 5% more fructose than cane sugar.
According to the FDA requirements for the use of the term ‘natural’ HFCS qualify as natural but my definition of natural food is food that has been produce by nature not manufactured in a refinery.
There are studies that have related weight gain with HFCS, which I think, has something to do with the structure of HFCS as compared to sucrose. Most sources say that the human body processes HFCS similarly to cane sugar.
There is a debate of whether HFCS is a source of mercury in the diet (an issue of which I was unaware). And there are sources stating that there are not quantifiable levels of mercury in HFCS. This issue of “quantifiable” levels of mercury in HFCS is a dilemma similar to the trans fat issue of what is an allowable amount of a substance. Less than 5 ppb (parts per billion) of mercury is considered not significant but it is still present therefore to dismiss it and deny its existence is deceitful.
Even after researching HFCS I am still a little confused on whether the way the body processes HFCS and cane sugar truly effects weight gain or not. Of course there are studies on rats and there are correlations that have been put together to make assumptions about the affect of HFCS but there is no true solid evidence. Furthermore, credible sources say there is insufficient evidence to prove that HFCS is less healthy than other sweeteners. Because of the lack of ample and concrete evidence corn refiners are able to say that HFCS is just as healthy as other sugars.
With all this said it is already hard enough to stay healthy and in shape that I am choosing to cutback or eliminate (if possible) as many unnatural ingredients as possible in the foods I consume. The fact that HFCS contains mercury and 5% more fructose than other sugars is enough for me to avoid it. HFCS is obviously just slightly unhealthier than other sweeteners and until there is more reassurance I am choosing to stay away from it.