Minnesota Farmer

Myth trumps truth
September 7, 2010, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Ag education, Corn, Farm, food, food safety, science | Tags: , , ,

Mark Twain said, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still tying its shoes.  Unfortunately, people will believe the lie much sooner than the truth.  A case in point High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

Even though;

  • The American Medical Association announced two years ago that HFCS does not contribute to obesity any more than other caloric sweeteners.
  • The American Dietetic Association announced in December 2008 that the source of the added sugar – sucrose, HFCS, honey, or fruit juice concentrate – should not be of concern, rather it is the amount of total calories that is important.

In other words it is not the corn sweetener that is making us obese it is the sheer volume of food we eat.  That puts the responsibility back on the individual, which is never as much fun as blaming someone else.

We love the myth that puts the blame on someone else, to make factory farms or chemical companies or pharmaceutical companies the bad guy.  It’s easy to do.  It means that we have not failed, that we are not to blame.  In the mean time our belief in the myth makes us feel good.  But a lie is still a lie, a myth a myth, and in the end the truth is still the truth.

So instead of believing the quick answer that makes us feel good, we should wait for the truth to tie its shoes.  After all, the truth shall set us free.



3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

That is a great quote! Truth is just so slow sometimes. Reminds me of the tortoise and the hare. Of course, in that story it’s the slow and steady that wins the race.

I don’t think the health issue of HFCS has been figured out yet. The AMA after reviewing the studies at pubmed and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews using the search terms “high fructose corn syrup” and “high fructose syrup” concluded that is was “unlikely” to have detrimental health effects as compared with sucrose but said quote “few studies have evaluated the potentially differential effect of various sweeteners, particularly as they relate to health conditions such as obesity.”

The American Dietetic Association’s statement underscoring the importance of quantity over quality (i.e. calories count over food quality) ignores the fact that our hormones dictate fat storage/loss and that calories in = calories out is a dying weight loss model. It’s just irresponsible to say that an overweight person just needs to eat less! Calories have little to do with weight problems.

Getting back to HFCS in comparison to sucrose, there are some major differences. The most obvious is that in HFCS you have monosaccharides fructose and glucose. In table sugar you have disaccharides, namely sucrose. The glucose and fructose are stuck together. This may or may not be significant in differences between the sweeteners.

One difference that IS likely to cause different physiological effects is that HFCS contains fructose as L-fructose, as opposed to D-fructose (or levulose). L-fructose isn’t really found in nature. Fruits contain the D-fructose form. They are two separate molecules with different effects on the body. Therefore I wouldn’t call HFCS natural. It may prove to be no more harmful that table sugar… but I don’t like to take chances with my health. It’s pretty much a non-issue in my world as I use very little sugar but I would easily purchase products with regular sugar over the alternative.

So, there’s my non-quick answer and I hope that truth is tightening the knot.

Comment by skj

Hi Michael,
I’d like to address skj.
I’ve previously read that fructose found in fruit is D-fructose and the stuff that the CRA refines is L-Fructose, but I have not been able to document this. Please share your source. This sound like a solid reason why HFCS is making everybody obese and diabetic. If the liver doesn’t recognize
the L-Fructose enantiomer, it’s understandable that it would be stored as
fat since it would not be usable for the metabolic pathways allowing for conversion to glucose phosphate. The body might even recognize L-Fructose as toxin which would explain further fat storage. Please cite
your reference.

Thank you,
Working to get the HFCS-out,
Cynthia Papierniak, M.S.

Comment by Cynthia1770

If you check, that table sugar you use is refined from a plant source just as HFCS is. It is considered a natural sugar. Yes, the molecules are slightly different, but it is a natural sugar. If we just push away from the table we can solve obesity.

Comment by Michael

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