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High fructose corn syrup, the first scientifically engineered sugar, was created in 1967.[1][2] It is a combination of fructose and glucose; HFCS is cheaper to manufacture than natural, cane-derived sugar, and is 1.16 times sweeter.[1] HFSC contains more fructose than sugar.[3] In 1970, less than one percent of all sweeteners in America were HFCS. As of 2008, it accounts for half of all sweeters, with the US being the largest HFCS consumer and producer in the world.[1] It is most commonly used in sodas (A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup.[4]), fruit-flavored drinks and other processed foods. [5] It is also hidden in unexpected places, like Ritz crackers, Wonder bread, Wishbone ranch dressing and Campbell's tomato soup.[2]

Manufacturing HFCSEdit

High-fructose corn syrup is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose[5]; then the glucose is processed to produce a high percentage of fructose[3]. Three different enzymes are required to break down cornstarch into the simple sugars glucose and fructose.

First, cornstarch, which is composed of chains of glucose molecules of almost infinite length, is treated with alpha-amylase to produce shorter chains of sugars called polysaccharides. Next, an enzyme called glucoamylase breaks down the sugar chains even further to yield the simple sugar glucose. The third enzyme, glucose-isomerase, converts glucose into a mixture of about 42% fructose and 50-52% glucose with some other sugars mixed in. Alpha-amylase and glucoamylase get added directly; because glucose-isomerase is so expenseve, it is packed into columns and the sugar mixture is then passed over it. The inexpensive alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are used only once while glucose-isomerase is reused until it loses most of its activity. The first of the final two steps involves a liquid chromatography step that takes the mixture to 90 percent fructose. Lastly, this is back-blended with the original mixture to yield a final concentration of about 55% fructose--high-fructose corn syrup.[3] Normal table sugar is comprised of 50% glucose and 50% sucrose.[6].

Controversy Edit

Some nutrition experts blame increased consumption of HFCS for the growing obesity problem.[5] One theory is that fructose is more readily converted to fat by your liver than is sucrose, forcing the liver to increase the levels of fat in the bloodstream. The body processes fructose in high-fructose corn syrup differently than it does cane or beet sugar, which alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function.[4] This has yet to be proven, however, many scientific articles and news reports have noted that since 1980, obesity rates have climbed at a rate remarkably similar to that of high-fructose corn syrup consumption.[2]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Di Leo, Jane (April 2008). "Sugar Overload". Women's Health Magazine (April 2008): 148-151. Rodale Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Melanie Warner (July 2006). A Sweetener With a Bad Rap. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Linda Joyce Forristal. The Murky World of High-Fructose Corn Syrup. WestonaPrice.org. Retrieved on 2008-04-16.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kim Severson (Feb 2004). Sugar coated. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Katherine Zeratsky (n.d.). High-fructose corn syrup: Why is it so bad for me?. MayoClinic.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.
  6. HFCS Facts. What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?. HFCSfacts.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.

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