High fructose corn syrup is a common ingredient in many foods we all eat. This type of sweetener is very commonly used because it is inexpensive to make; however, studies have also shown that it’s a leading cause of obesity in the United States.
How Is HFCS Made?
The corn is taken to what is called a wet mill, where it is crushed and then sifted through screens to sort the corn starch from the other parts of the corn kernel. The next stage has natural enzymes added to the starch, to change some of the glucose into fructose. In the end, HFCS has about 42% fructose and 58% glucose. After this stage is complete, the liquid is sent through a carbon filter to make sure it is clean and impurities are removed.
The ending product is called HFCS-42. This means it is High-Fructose Corn Syrup – 42% and it is ready to be used to sweeten many goods on the market and even in your home. Some of the HFCS-42 is filtered yet again to create a much higher percentage of fructose, which will have a 90% fructose level, or HFCS-90. These two liquids can also be blended together to create a mixture which is 55% fructose, or HFCS-55, which is used mainly in sodas.
What Is HFCS in?
The simple answer is: a lot of things have high-fructose corn syrup in them because it is so easy and inexpensive to manufacture. Most commonly you will find it in:
- Juice drinks
- Baked goods
While this list may seem to be where you expect to find high fructose corn syrup, there are also a great many foods you may not expect it to be in:
- Spaghetti sauce
- Granola bars
- Canned and frozen fruits
- Ketchup and other condiments
Does HFCS Have Any Other Names?
High fructose corn syrup can also be found in foods under an assumed identity. With the recent bad press this particular sweetener has been receiving, manufacturers are adding it to their foods, but calling it by other names. If you’re looking at labels and you want to make sure HFCS is not in your foods, look for these names as well:
- Iso glucose
- Fruit fructose
- Isogluclose – European alternative name
How Does the Body Process HFCS?
When you ingest HFCS, the body reacts to it a little differently than normal sugar. One effect is that the liver produces more fat in the bloodstream than usual. This results in greater fat deposits in cells and the body becoming generally overweight. Another potential side effect is that HFCS can make the body think it is still hungry when it’s not. This leads to overeating and an even greater potential for obesity. To date, there are little to no health benefits of using HFCS as a sweetener.
High fructose corn syrup is not beneficial to people who are on a diet or diabetic and watching what they eat.