America has become a nation of overweight people. Studies show that despite low cal, low carb, low fat foods we are not getting any better at managing our weight. The newest glaring light of who’s to blame has fallen squarely on the shoulders of high fructose corn syrup or HFCS. How convenient if that were truly the culprit.


As those selling natural sugar products demonize HFCS, the truth is that scientists see little dietary benefit in swapping processed sweeteners for natural ones. According to The American Medical Association, the fact is that HFCS, and sugar both contribute to increased risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. My personal opinion, we want to pick the fly out of the ointment, when we really need to throw out the whole jar.


HFCS filtered into our food chain about forty years ago and by 1984 was the chief sweetener used by almost every soda manufacturer in the country. Corn was in abundant supply and therefore cheaper than cane sugar. The proponents for now ending the use of HFCS say the process involves using enzymes in a complex series of chemical reactions that may leave behind traces of toxic residues such as mercury. Others say that fructose is more readily converted to fat by the liver leading to unfavorable lipid profiles, Insulin resistance, fatty liver disease and diabetes. The statistics I could find to support such claims were sketchy at best. One statement comparing HFCS to glucose stated that HFCS is worse for you than glucose, at least taken pound for pound. Hello.. does that tell you anything? Are you consuming pounds of HFCS regularly? If you are, the problem is more than just corn verses beet sugar.


Most nutritional experts advise prudent health conscious consumers to decrease their intake of sweetened products period- including those containing HFCS. The nutritional content of HFCS as well as glucose offers only empty calories with no micronutrient value.


Frankly, reading studies produced about the current and ever so popular artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet /Equal or Splenda/sucralose should raise far more health concerns that HFCS verses cane sugar. I regularly advise my clients suffering with unknown joint or muscle pain, symptoms of fibromyalgia and arthritis to stop their use of products containing artificial sweeteners, that if they must drink soda they would be better off to switch to sweetened drinks (in minimal amounts) than to use artificially sweetened drinks.


It would be interesting to know if soda sales and other sweetened drinks have fallen off due to the economic downturn, or if the soda manufacturers got a better deal on cane sugar this year. Or, as more and more high schools ban soda machines they’ve launched a campaign to eek their way back in, by putting a new face on an old calorie high, nutrient empty food?


If your diet is squeaky clean, lots of fruits, veggies, smaller meat portions and plenty of good high quality water knock yourself out with your one pop as an occasional treat- no harm done. Till next time, Rebecca.