Corn Commentary

A Sweet Taste of Truth

So what wine goes best with myths and lies? Apparently someone better figure this out quickly as the American public is getting served up a lot of misleading information and in some cases out right fabrications regarding what they eat. The latest list of food fibs and myths come from the Editors of Eating Healthy Magazine who expose a number of urban food myths including the demonization of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

In short, it (HFCS) seems to be no worse—but also no better—than sucrose, or table sugar. “The debate about HFCS and sucrose [table sugar] is taking the focus off the more important question,” says Kimber Stanhope, Ph.D., R.D., a researcher at the University of California, Davis, who has studied the sweetener extensively. “What we should be asking is ‘What are the effects of all sugars (HFCS and sucrose) in the diet?’”

It is interesting to note that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is number two on the list of the 13 biggest nutrition and food myths put together by Joyce Hendley, longtime contributing editor at the magazine.

Myth 2: High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is worse for you than sugar.
The Truth: The idea that high-fructose corn syrup is any more harmful to your health than sugar is “one of those urban myths that sounds right but is basically wrong,” according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group.

The composition of high-fructose corn syrup is almost identical to table sugar or sucrose (55 percent fructose, 45 percent glucose and 50:50, respectively). Calorie-wise, HFCS is a dead ringer for sucrose. Studies show that HFCS and sucrose have very similar effects on blood levels of insulin, glucose, triglycerides and satiety hormones. In short, it seems to be no worse—but also no better—than sucrose, or table sugar.

This controversy, say researchers, is distracting us from the more important issue: we’re eating too much of all sorts of sugars, from HFCS and sucrose to honey and molasses. The American Heart Association recently recommended that women consume no more than 100 calories a day in added sugars [6 teaspoons]; men, 150 calories [9 teaspoons].

The Yahoo-based internet community called Shine takes the Healthy Living list and boils it down to their “six biggest lies” about food and HFCS remains near the top.

The silliness of the HFCS issue is providing some good fodder for hawkers of humor such as Jim Borgman and Jerry Scott, the co-creators of the Zits comic strip. You have to marvel at their ability to send a strong message with a little over 40 words, but in this case one will do - “moderation.”