Yesterday, while I was purchasing some soft drinks at a local retail store, I happened to come across an ingredient called high fructose corn syrup. As a food engineer, I always tend to have a curious mind towards ingredients used in the product, and after arriving home I did some research toward the topic and came to the know some interesting things about the ingredient.
Corn syrup was Developed due to an increase in demand for Sweeteners in the US during the mid-Twentieth Century. The first ‘corn syrup’ was prepared by mixing corn starch with dilute hydrochloric acid and it was prepared by a German chemist Gottlieb Kirchoff. Then, industries came across a cheap alternative during the 1950’s. The First ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup’ was introduced by Richard O. Marshall and Earl R. Koii in 1957. It contains more fructose which leads to it being a cheaper and sweeter alternative to sucrose.
Current Production Process of High Fructose Corn Syrup:
It is a Multi-Step bio-Process.
Alpha-Amylase produced by certain bacterial cultures mainly produced by Bacillus species is added to starch which converts starch into oligosaccharides.
Glucoamylase (Gamma Amylase) Produced by certain fungal cultures are used to convert oligosaccharides into glucose.
You then add D-Xylose Isomerase to convert glucose into fructose which is sweeter.
Classification of Corn Syrup:
- Light Corn Syrup: Seasoned with Vanilla and Salt. It is light in colour and moderately sweet.
- Dark Corn Syrup: It is a combination of corn syrup with molasses and it has a caramel colour, flavour and some salts. Molasses present in them enhances the flavour. Sodium benzoate acts as a preservative.
Classification of High Fructose Corn Syrup:
- HFCS 4: Contains 42% Fructose – used in processed foods and breakfast cereals.
- HFCS 55: Contains 55% Fructose – used in Soft Drinks
- HFCS 65: Contains 65% Fructose – used in Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.
- HFCS 90: Contains 90% Fructose – used for preparation of HFCS 42 and HFCS 55.
- Normal Sucrose (Table Sugar) contains an equal amount of glucose and fructose (50%-50%).
Fructose Vs Glucose in Absorption:
Glucose is a major energy-producing compound needed by our body. Our Brain and CNS gets its energy from glucose. As glucose enters our body, it enters to our pancreas through transporter Glut-4. This is an insulin-dependent path. Hence, insulin secretion starts and the excess of glucose is stored as glycogen for future purposes.
Fructose enters the System directly into the Pancreas through transporter Glut-5. This is an insulin-independent pathway so, insulin will not be secreted as fructose enters the system. Hence a large amount of consumption may lead to an increase in blood sugar level and over a long time may cause Diabetes Mellitus Type-2. Due to a delay in insulin secretion, it also leads to the delay in the production of leptins. Leptins are the compounds that give satisfaction and inhibits the intake. Delay in Production of leptins leads to over intake and which leads to obesity and certain hormone syndromes.
Some Foods that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup:
|Serial Number||Product||Type of Sugar Present||Size of Serving||Amount present per serving|
|3||Hershey Chocolate Sauce||HFCS||39g||20g|
|4||Kellogg’s Nutri-grain cereal bar||HFCS||37g||12g|
According to the American Heart Association, the daily allowance of sugar per person is 25grams/day for women and 37.5/day grams for men.
A small amount of consumption of HFCS does not cause any harm but large consumption over a long time leads to a variety of diseases.
Why do Industries still use it?
High fructose corn syrup is a lot sweeter than normal sucrose and extremely cheap too. Studies show that the level of consumption is also increased when high fructose corn syrup is used. Another benefit is that, recrystallization of sugars is stopped when high fructose starch is used while recrystallization occurs when sucrose is added.
Several industries and many companies which are concerned about the health of the consumer are now moving away from the usage of high fructose corn syrup. They are now making the switch to sucrose again. Certain companies that are using sucrose again are Hershey’s, Gatorade Drinks, Yoplait yoghurt and etc.
To read more about it, you can check out the References.
Karthick Raj S M K
Wanna read about how you might be paying double for your food? You can check out our article on the true cost of food.