logcabinWith all the conflicting press on High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), it’s hard to know if I should be avoiding it our using it in moderation. Heck, I didn’t even know what it was or that it was controversial until commercials aired saying it was OK in moderation.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener and preservative. High-fructose corn syrup is made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose — another form of sugar. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose. Because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar, high-fructose corn syrup has become a popular ingredient in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and other processed foods.”

So far, research has yielded conflicting results about the effects of high-fructose corn syrup. For example, various early studies showed an association between increased consumption of sweetened beverages (many of which contained high-fructose corn syrup) and obesity. But recent research — some of which is supported by the beverage industry — suggests that high-fructose corn syrup isn’t intrinsically less healthy than other sweeteners, nor is it the root cause of obesity.

While research continues, moderation remains important. Many beverages and other processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Regularly including these products in your diet has the potential to promote obesity — which, in turn, promotes conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.”

The American Medical Society came to the same conclusion. “After studying current research, the American Medical Association (AMA) today concluded that high fructose syrup does not appear to contribute more to obesity than other caloric sweeteners…”American Medical Association press release, June 17, 2008

Personally, I’ve decided that I can do without HFCS until all the reports are in. There’s no nutritional value to eating it and it’s getting easier to avoid it.   Many companies are removing the cheap sweetener from their products and opting for sugar instead.  One such company in Pinnacle Foods.   They’ve replaced the HFCS in their Log Cabin Original Syrup.  Now I’m usually a REAL Maple Syrup snob, optioning for it because it’s more mapley and less sugary, but I agreed to taste test the new Log Cabin HFCS-free syrup.

It was as delicious as I remember it as a kid. Thick, sticky, and yummy. I heated it in the microwave and drizzled it over an Organic Batter Blaster pancake that had been covered in extra crunchy peanut butter.  Did it taste better than it’s older HFCS version?  Sorry, I don’t know.  But I do know that should my budget restrict my use of real maple syrup, I’ll opt for the Log Cabin as a perfectly acceptable replacement.

Still worried about obesity and the possible HFCS connection? The Mayo Clinic recommends:

  • Limiting the amount of processed foods you eat – many have HFCS or other sweeteners – items that might surprise you .
  • Avoid foods that contain added sugar – each fresh fruit rather than fruit juice or fruit-flavored drinks.  Even 100% fruit juice has a high concentration of sugar.  Eating the fruit itself adds fiber and other minerals.
  • Choose fruit canned in its own juices instead of heavy syrup when fresh isn’t an option.
  • Drink less soda.
  • Never allow sweetened beverages to replace milk or water, especially for children

Enjoy!  I’m off to make some more  pancakes 🙂

  • 50 Names for Sugar You May Not Know (dietriffic.com)
  • Foods, High in Fructose, Sorbitol, Fructans and FODMAPs (healthhype.com)
  • Glycemic Index: Where Do Sweeteners Fall? (fitsugar.com)
  • The decline and fall of high-fructose corn syrup. (slate.com)
  • Personal Health: America’s Diet: Too Sweet by the Spoonful (nytimes.com)
  • Fructose worse than glucose when it comes to sweetened drinks: study (cbc.ca)
  • Pepsi, Mountain Dew Launch Retro Drinks (npr.org)