Consider the Source: Corn Syrup Ads

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This is a the first in an ongoing series called "Consider the Source," in which the dailySpark examines nutrition information and its sources.

HFCS, or high fructose corn syrup, has taken quite a hit by the media in recent years, and some new ads are fighting back.
You might have seen these videos:

The ads are part of a $20 million to $30 million campaign by the Corn Refiners Association to boost the rep of HFCS.

According to the videos, high fructose corn syrup is:

"…made from corn, has the same calories as sugar or honey and is fine in moderation."

"…made from corn, doesn't have artificial ingredients and like sugar is fine in moderation."

What else do we know about it?

What is high fructose corn syrup?

It is corn syrup that has undergone an enzymatic process to increase its level of fructose. The sweetener is widely used in processed foods in the U.S. because of its affordability (Corn farmers receive government subsidies, but sugar farmers face tariffs.) and its convenience (because it's a liquid, it's easier to transport).The FDA recently reversed its ruling and declared that HFCS is natural.

The ads say that HFCS is "fine in moderation." The trouble is that it's in almost every food in your grocery store. Check the labels of even "basic" minimally processed foods. Yogurt, spaghetti sauce, granola bars, even bread contains corn syrup.

Manufacturers say there is little distinguishable difference between products sweetened with corn syrup and those made with sugar. To find out for yourself, visit the Mexican section of your grocery store and pick up a bottle of Coke from Mexico then buy one from the regular soda section. Taste them both and see for yourself. (Outside of the U.S., soda is mostly sweetened with sugar.)

Read more about why people try to avoid corn sweeteners.

Ignore the argument specifically for or against corn sweeteners for a moment and look at the bigger picture. What kinds of foods are traditionally sweetened with corn? The ingredient is ubiquitous in American grocery stores, but it's mostly found in processed foods and beverages, particularly sodas.

While the ads are right—all foods are fine in moderation—trying to eliminate or cut back on HFCS and all sweeteners isn't a bad idea. Chances are, you'll swap processed foods for healthier, whole foods.

Have you tried to cut back on HFCS and other corn sweeteners? Which side do you fall on? Is corn syrup natural?