So what is so dangerous about the high fructose corn syrup?
What is important to understand is how our body processes sugar before we can claim that high fructose corn syrup is detrimental to our health. The simple sugars that are easily digested, absorbed, and metabolized in our bodies include glucose, fructose, and galactose, also known as the monosaccharides. These monosaccharides are essential to providing instant energy when our glucose storages are low. Combinations of these monosaccharides help to form disaccharides such as high fructose corn syrup, honey, and apple juice concentrate.
Our bodies cannot decipher between a "good" food and a "bad" food. Therefore, whether or not we eat a donut or an apple, our body processes energy it takes to digest the food, referred to as calories. From there, the body will either use the energy as a fuel source, or it will store the energy throughout the body for later use.
As I had mentioned before, high fructose corn syrup has 42% fructose and 58% glucose. What is interesting, however, is that honey contains a higher percentage of fructose: 48% and 52% glucose, and apple juice concentrate contains 65% fructose and 35% glucose. Given these compositions, everyone afraid of high fructose would never buy apple juice concentrate or honey, yet these foods do not receive poor reputations in the media. Therefore, why has the media caused such controversy over high fructose corn syrup?
Because obesity is growing in our country, many people turned to a common ingredient found in "bad foods" such as soda, fruit juice, syrups, and desserts. The common ingredient found in all of these foods is high fructose corn syrup. What is important to note, however, is that the high fructose corn syrup alone is not making Americans obese. Rather, the overconsumption of foods with high fructose corn syrup is. Weight can only be gained by excess calories. Therefore, if someone consumes a liter of soda in one sitting, they will be more likely to gain weight and have adverse health effects.
Bottom line: "Everything in moderation." Avoid over-eating these foods to prevent weight gain from excess calories. But know that small doses of high fructose corn syrup here and there will not harm you.
Clark, K. (2012). Carbohydrates-497b 2012. Informally published manuscript, Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. , Available from Powerpoint.
Nelson, J. K. (n.d.). What are the health concerns with high fructose corn syrup?. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-fructose-corn-syrup/AN01588