Wednesday, December 29, 2010
All The Reasons You Need Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup
By now, you’ve more than likely seen one of the ads put out by the Corn Refiners Association. The ads tell the story of a “natural” sweetener made from corn. They go on to insinuate that high fructose corn syrup has been unfairly portrayed and that this truly American ingredient is fine in moderation.
But when push comes to shove, what are the facts about high fructose corn syrup? How is it made? Is it healthy in moderation to the body and the planet? Here are the facts, so that the next time you’re asked, you can confidently dispel any high fructose corn syrup rumors.
1. The process of making high fructose corn syrup is pretty weird
First of all, there’s nothing natural about high fructose corn syrup, and it most certainly does not exist in nature.
The process starts off with corn kernels, yes, but then that corn is spun at a high velocity and combined with three other enzymes: alpha-amylase, glucoamylase, and xylose isomerase, so that it forms a thick syrup that’s way sweeter than sugar and super cheap to produce.
That’s why it’s poured into a huge majority of mass produced processed foods.
2. High fructose corn syrup does weird stuff to your body
While the commercials claim that it’s fine in moderation, the truth is that the whole problem with high fructose corn syrup in the first place, is that moderation is seemingly impossible.
That’s why it’s so closely associated with obesity in this country. It’s like an addictive drug.
3. There might be mercury in your corn syrup
And what about the rumors of mercury being found in corn syrup?
According to MSNBC in one study, published in the Journal of Environmental Health, former Food and Drug Administration scientist Renee Dufault and colleagues tested 20 samples of high fructose corn syrup and found detectable mercury in nine of the 20 samples.
“We went and looked at supermarket samples where high fructose corn syrup was the first or second ingredient on the label,” Dr. David Wallinga, a food safety researcher and activist at the nonprofit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy said. These 55 different foods included barbecue sauce, jam, yogurt, and chocolate syrup. “We found about one out of three had mercury above the detection limit,” Wallinga said.
4. The environmental impact of high fructose corn syrup is huge
Most corn is grown as a monoculture, meaning that the land is used solely for corn, not rotated among crops. Large monocultures, which are usually genetically modified, can be riddled with pests.
As a result, monocultures are often dressed with a toxic cocktail of pesticides so that they can survive. Monocultures can deplete the nutrients in soil and lead to erosion.