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Food for Thought
Corn Syrup vs. HFCS
I have a seldom-used bottle of corn syrup lurking in my pantry, hiding behind the organic wheat flour and the raw nuts. Although I don't use it often, there are some recipes that would not be as good without it. In glazes, icings, or most items that are not brought to high temperatures, you may be able to substitute a simple sugar syrup or honey. For some candy making, however, the glucose in corn syrup is needed to prevent excessive crystallization. If you have ever eaten grainy fudge, you know that the sugar crystals in candy can affect its texture and appeal. While it is possible to make creamy fudge without corn syrup, I prefer to play it safe. Despite the fact that corn syrup can be made from genetically modified corn, I am okay with buying an occasional bottle of it. But if you prefer, you can purchase glucose syrup on the Internet.
In my defense, I discovered that light corn syrup is not the same as that villain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Here's what Karo has to say: "Corn syrup is a mildly sweet, concentrated solution of dextrose and other sugars derived from corn starch. It is naturally sweet. Corn syrup contains between 15% to 20% dextrose (glucose) and a mixture of various other types of sugar." HFCS, however, is glucose that is treated with enzymes to turn it into fructose, and then blended with corn syrup. It is 55% fructose, 45% glucose. To get an idea of how HFCS is made, I recommend watching the movie King Corn.
There is a great deal of controversy on the health effects of HFCS. The Corn Refiners Association wants us to believe there is no difference between their chemically altered, man-made product and sugar. They have spent a lot of money on ads to convince us that "sugar is sugar." For a fun spoof of their ads, go to YouTube.
After reading a multitude of articles on the subject, I strongly believe the truth lies with the groups that do not have a huge financial gain at stake. There are several studies that suggest that sugar is NOT sugar; that our brains respond differently to sucrose and fructose. At the risk of oversimplifying, sucrose satisfies . . . fructose does not. In fact, fructose may make you hungrier.
A Princeton study showed that rats with free access to HFCS gained a significant amount of weight compared to rats with free access to table sugar, even though their calorie intake was comparable. They had more belly fat, raised triglycerides, and obesity. In humans, these are known to be risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It also is believed to deposit fat in the liver.
According to Diabetes Health, High Fructose Corn Syrup:
There are a lot of reasons for the obesity crisis in our country, and it may seem like HFCS is taking the rap when poor eating habits, fast food, and inactivity are also factors. But the problem is: HFCS is added to almost everything you eat and drink! It's cheap, so manufacturers use it freely as a sweetener and a shelf stabilizer. Check your labelsit's in your bread, crackers, canned goods, and drinks.
Because this sweetener is hidden in so many processed foods, it is unreasonable to expect people to consume it in "moderation," as some experts recommend. In 2007, the average person in the United States consumed 56 pounds of HFCS. A large portion of that was probably in soft drinks and juices.
If you are not vigilant about checking labels, I guarantee you are consuming a lot more HFCS than you think. If that isn't enough to worry about, the corn they use for HFCS is often a GMO (genetically modified) food. I won't get into that subject right now, but believe meit is something to avoid if possible.
The last time I went shopping I found pancake syrup, ketchup, and children's juice pouches that had labels stating they were made without HFCS. This is hugely exciting. It means that once again consumer demand is starting to make a difference. Every dollar we spend casts a voteand the manufacturers have to listen to us if they want to keep our business. Now that, my friends, is power!
For more information
Appetite for Profit, by Michele Simon
Here is a decadent recipe; the perfect excuse for keeping a bottle of corn syrup in your kitchen! This was demonstrated and passed down to me more than 40 years ago by my aunt and is one of my all-time favorites. It just won a blue ribbon at our local Grange contest and is headed for the state competition in June.
3 1/2 cups white sugar
Contact Lorinda at email@example.com
Lorinda resides in Eastern Washington, where she joyously combines her love of cooking and gardening. Baking is her passion, and licking the batter off the spoon after making a cake is her reward. When she's not in the kitchen, she's out in the garden pulling weeds and snacking on young peas. Enjoy Lorinda's blog, The Rowdy Baker.
Food for Thought copyright 2013.