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High Fructose Corn Syrup – I may have been wrong!

By at January 29, 2011 | 3:41 pm | Print

High Fructose Corn Syrup – I may have been wrong!

High Fructose Corn Syrup – I may have been wrong.
by Professor Jay

I have always assumed that there is no difference between consuming high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose (a.k.a. table sugar, cane sugar). Let me explain why. Sucrose (table sugar) is made up of a glucose and fructose linked together. So sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Also, glucose and fructose are made of the exact same atoms; that is C6H12O6(6 Carbons, 12 Hydrogens, and 6 Oxygens.) The only difference is how the atoms are arranged.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is also a mixture of glucose and fructose, but with the ratio being 55% fructose and 42% glucose, and 3% other sugars. Honey has a similar ratio of fructose to glucose, as well. So I, as well as many others, could not see the difference that a little extra fructose could have on metabolism; especially with the claim that it is contributing to the obesity epidemic. Remember, fructose is found in fruit. It’s nature’s sweetener.

How is HFCS made?
HFCS, as the name implies, is made from corn starch. Corn starch is made of glucose molecules linked together. Enzymes are used to first break the corn starch down to glucose. Then an enzyme is added that converts part of the glucose to fructose. Remember, glucose and fructose are identical except for their shape. One of the added enzymes simply rearranges glucose to the fructose shape. This series of reactions ultimately produces the desired 55% fructose concentration of HFCS.

I concluded that HFCS was a problem in the American diet simply because it was added as inexpensive “filler” to almost all processed foods (it’s hard to find a food label that doesn’t contain some version of the words high fructose corn syrup, i.e. it’s in everything). I thought the problem was simply a matter of an increase of empty calories to an individual’s diet, regardless if it was HFCS or sucrose (table sugar). No way did I ever figure that the way fructose was metabolized by the body may be contributing to the obesity epidemic, as well as health problems.

Then I read this.
A recent study out of Princeton University that was published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior showed that rats with access to HFCS gained significantly more weight than rats with equal access to sucrose. This was true even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories, and even fewer calories from HFCS were consumed than from sucrose. The fact that two groups of rats consumed the same number of calories, but the group that consumed HFCS gained significantly more weight than the other group is very concerning – and puzzling.

Although, I certainly would never draw a final conclusion from one study, this has really grabbed my attention. The authors of the study also proposed some legitimate mechanisms of how fructose may be causing the weight gain and health problems.

Bottom Line: I definitely need to look into this more. Keep your eyes open regarding HFCS.

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Trackbacks For This Post

  1. […] sweet. Interestingly enough, a recent study has shown that higher concentrations of fructose (i.e. high fructose corn syrup) can contribute more to obesity than sucrose. Therefore, a goal in achieving family weight loss […]

  2. […] High Fructose Corn Syrup, or HFCS, in consumer foods has recently generated controversy concerning its role as a contributor to rising obesity rates in the United States. Two questions stand out. One asks, “Does HFCS actually cause weight gain with obesity indicators such as metabolic changes along with increased adiposity, especially as compared with sucrose?”, and two, “Is HFCS a unique contributor to obesity?” Although varied, two rat studies in particular show increased weight gain among rats fed HFCS as part of their diet, as compared to sucrose (Bocarsly et al. 2010) (Light et al. 2008). The findings from these studies reveal a cause for concern, and the need for additional long-term studies has been expressed. […]

5 Comments


  1. jenn, 6 years ago Reply

    I also read about a study where they looked at cancer cells and their response to regular sugar vs. HFCS. The cancer cells loved the regular sugar (as is well known) BUT they loved the HFCS even more. I hate that crap and I hate those commercials paid for by the corn refiners association where the lady says “Your body can’t tell the difference… it’s all fine in moderation!”


    • Shalisa, 6 years ago Reply

      What i hate is that they say it’s fine in moderation yet it’s in EVERYTHING!!! I’m glad to see that some products are leaving it out now but still. How can something be in moderation if it’s everywhere. I even looked a bottle of honey today and it had corn sugar it in!! I’m frustrated and disgusted with it all!!


  2. Laura, 6 years ago Reply

    Great article. I have also always wondered about high fructose corn syrup. There is also a lot of politics and big business involved in the corn issue as well. Watch the movie Food, Inc – it’s a real eye opener.
    Keep the great info coming. I love the site. 🙂


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