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What is High Fructose Corn Syrup? Why is HFCS added to foods?

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup? Why is HFCS added to foods?
October 4, 2018 Pragna Mohapatra
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What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Did you know that high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS is one of the most widely used sweeteners added in the food industry? You can find it everywhere ranging from packaged beverages such as juices and yoghurts to packaged foods such as breakfast cereals, bread, and biscuits. With its deliberate use in the food products, it is highly important that we understand what exactly is HFCS and how it affects your health? So, the bad news is – HFCS is the main cause behind conditions like diabetesheart disease, and even some cancers.

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is also known as glucose-fructose, iso-glucose and glucose-fructose syrup.  It is a sweetener prepared from cornstarch. Starches are a long chain of linked sugars and after breaking this, sugar glucose syrup is made. Manufacturers add some enzymes to it to convert the glucose into fructose which is sweeter than cane sugar and is called HFCS.

Kinds of High Fructose Corn Syrup

HFCS is often compared to granulated sugar due to its proportion of fructose to glucose and calorie content. There are some varieties of HFCS and they are numbered according to the percentage of fructose they contain. HFCS 42 is used to sweeten beverages, processed foods, cereals, and baked goods. In soft drinks HFCS 55 is mainly used and but HFCS 65 is used in soft drinks distributed by Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.


The manufacturing process of HFCS

Fructose is prepared by partially changing the glucose into a different sugar. To make High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) manufactures mill the corn to get starch and out of this sugar glucose syrup is made. Some enzymes are added in it to increase the sweetness and it is called High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Common foods in which HFCS is present

Fructose is present in fruits, fruit juices, some vegetables and honey. Manufacturers use it to prepare table sugar (sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup and then it is used in many processed foods and beverages to enhance sweetness.

Soda, candy and candy bars are rich in sugar content. HFCS is the main ingredient of these products. Yoghurt is always referred to as a healthy snack. But the truth is that different brands of yoghurt, low-fat and fat-free yoghurts, contain HFCS and unknowingly we consume HFCS.

Like other drinks, the packed juice is the biggest sources of HFCS which is taken by most of the children. Though we take it to get antioxidants and nutrients, it has high concentrations of HFCS as the sweetener.

Jams and jellies contain sugar, but the store-bought products are sweetened by HFCS. We use sauces and condiments to enhance the taste, flavour and texture of the food. But many of them contain HFCS.


In breakfast, we prefer to take cereals as it is healthy and convenient. But most of the packed cereals are rich in HFCS. Ice Cream is one of the most liked deserts. To sweeten ice cream, many brands use HFCS. Besides these, different nutrition bars, frozen junk foods, salad dressings contain HFCS which we consume unknowingly.

Health problems associated with HFCS

Though The United States Food and Drug Administration clarifies that HFCS is a safe ingredient for food and beverage manufacturing, there are not enough pieces of evidence that we can say that high-fructose corn syrup is healthy than any other types of sweeteners. Researches show that after taking this one does not fill completely and he wants to eat more. Thus it contributes in increasing in weight and diabetes. So there is debate over it, whether HFCS is responsible for greater health risks than other sweeteners.


1. HFCS increases an unnatural amount of Fructose in your body

The fructose in HFCS causes so many adverse effects on our health if eaten much. When most starchy carbohydrates like rice are broken down into glucose easily, the granulated sugar and HFCS break into 50% glucose and 50% fructose.

Glucose is digestible and is transported and utilized easily by our body cells. It gives us the energy to perform high-intensity exercises and various works. Whereas, the fructose from HFCS is converted to fat or glycogen (stored carbs) by the liver and our body cannot handle it properly.

2. It’s transformed into Fats and leads to many diseases

High-fructose corn syrup is metabolized and transformed in to fat. With the increase in accumulation of fat, weight of the body increases and it leads to obesity, fatty liver diseases and type 2diabetes.

3. Other Serious Diseases associated with HFCS

Besides obesity, diabetes and liver diseases, fructose of HFCS causes inflammation, heart diseases and cancer. Due to inflammation, the amount of uric acid increases in the urine and it becomes the cause of gout, an inflammatory disease.

High insulin injection for sugar can also lead tumour growth. Some studies also reveal that excess intake of HFCS increases the risk of cancer.

Lastly, too much fructose in the body enhances the advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which harm the cells of your body and reduce your resistance power.


Why is HFCS added to foods?

High fructose corn syrup is not a naturally occurring substance rather it is an industrial food product. It is cheaper than sugar due to the subsidies are given by governments to farms. HFCS added products are sweeter and cheaper than products made with cane sugar. Manufacturing advantages of High fructose corn syrup over sugar make it is easier to handle and it is also more cost-effective.  Therefore manufacturers use it widely in sodas, soft drinks, deserts etc.

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