Do You Know Nutrition: Limit high-fructose corn syrup in diet

By Phylis Canion
March 5, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 4, 2013 at 9:05 p.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

I am concerned about the food additive high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I would love to have some of my questions answered about its safety. How long has it been in our food products? What is the composition of HFCS? Is HFCS natural? Does HFCS contain mercury? Thank you.

Cane sugar had been America's choice of sweetener until the invention of high fructose corn syrup in the 1960s.

By the 1970s, HFCS began appearing in many food products because the corn-derived sweetener was much less expensive and has a longer shelf life. While regular table sugar (sucrose) is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose, high fructose corn syrup can contain up to 80 percent fructose and 20 percent glucose. While table sugar and HFCS both contain four calories per gram, the concern is the excess amount of fructose.

High dietary intake of fructose is problematic because fructose is more rapidly metabolized in the liver, flooding metabolic pathways and leading to increased triglyceride synthesis and fat storage in the liver, based on research by A.R. Gaby. In a study by the National Institute of Health, results indicated that consumption of high fructose corn syrup can result in fatty liver.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, between 1970 and 1990 the annual intake of HFCS increased by more than 1,000 percent. Increased HFCS consumption has paralleled increasing rates of obesity, metabolic syndrome and other conditions associated with poor lifestyle choices.

High fructose corn syrup is not natural. HFCS is not the run-of-the-mill corn syrup nor is it the fructose naturally found in fruits and honey. The sweetener is made from corn starch via a process that alters corn's naturally occurring starch molecules. In fact, the Corn Refiners Association ads that referred to HFCS as natural have now removed the word "natural."

A study conducted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found that one-third of all high fructose corn syrup containing foods that were purchased contained mercury. The top foods that contain high fructose corn syrup are sodas, yogurts, breads, frozen pizzas, cereal bars, cocktail peanuts, boxed macaroni and cheese, salad dressings, tonic, applesauce and canned fruit. It is very important to read food labels and avoid all products that contain HFCS.

Thought for the week: If you can never manage to be happy with where you are, you will never be happy with where you go.

Call 361-576-2100 today to book your seat at the next free nutrition class at Organic Emporium at 7 p.m. Monday.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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