High Fructose Corn Syrup Gets a Bad Rep

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Photo by Sarah Sherman
Heath teacher, Kristen Slamer doesn't eat a product if high fructose corn syrup is one of the first three ingredients. Slamer tries to stay away from processed foods.

My mom always said, “If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it.”  But, I can pronounce “cheez-it” and “pop tart” and other snack foods like that.

I never really looked at the nutrition facts on these products because none of it made sense to me. Since all the ingredients pictured are so much smaller than the logo, they must not really matter. But when I took a closer look at the list of ingredients, there are so many that I have never heard of before such as thiamin mononitrate, dextrose, diglycerides, niacinamide, and tricalcium phosphate to name a few. All of these sound very scientific, and most people are not able to decipher if they are good or bad for a person just by looking at the name. Just like high fructose corn syrup; nowhere in the name does it say that this is a natural form of sugar.

Many people are skeptical when they see those four words in the ingredients list of a tasty snack, but high fructose corn syrup might not be as bad as people make it out to be. High fructose corn syrup is a natural sweetener made from corn that has the same number of calories as real sugar.

Scientists have concluded that high fructose corn syrup is just as safe as regular sugar and honey.

“High fructose corn syrup contains approximately equal ratios of fructose and glucose, as does table sugar, honey and many fruits,” according to Sweet Surprise, a website dedicated to facts about high fructose corn syrup.

Your body processes high fructose corn syrup the same way it processes any type of sugar.

Many people think that high fructose corn syrup causes obesity, but it doesn’t add to the problem any more than other forms of sugar. Many people assume that high fructose corn syrup is the problem because it is in most of our foods instead of table sugar, so we eat more of it. If table sugar sweetened all of our snacks, people would blame the problem of obesity on that instead.

Both the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association concluded that high fructose corn syrup was no more a specific attribute to obesity than any other sweeteners. The reason high fructose corn syrup is used instead of sugar is because of it’s freshness, stability, its low cost, and it is just plain easier.

High fructose corn syrup prevents freezer burn and maintains flavor for long periods of time. Flavoring with high fructose corn syrup also makes liquid products easier to use because it has a lower freezing point. Also, most of the sugars in high fructose corn syrup are fermentable and therefore can be use to bake bread.

Although high fructose corn syrup is not necessarily bad for you, you should still watch how much of it you are eating. If you eat too much of anything it will be bad for you. Perhaps the problem with high fructose corn syrup is that it is so sweet and delicious; people can’t stop eating it.

Moderation is the key when eating sweets. Health teacher, Kristen Slamer tries to stay away from high fructose corn syrup if it is listed in the first three ingredients of a product.

“I think everything is okay in moderation, but it shouldn’t make up a lot of what people eat,” said Slamer.