Thursday, July 14, 2011

Corn Sugar

As I was scanning an ingredient label recently (unfortunately, I can't recall the product), I noticed something that I'd never seen before - corn sugar. I did some googling, and it seems that it is merely a new name for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I've covered HFCS (here), and I'm not convinced of the extreme evils for which it is blamed. However, I would recommend limiting all simple carbohydrates and getting plenty of excercise. This is easier said than done, of course.

Here are two sources that explain more about corn sugar:

First is an NPR article, from 2010:
Would "high fructose corn syrup" sound so sweet by any other name? The Corn Refiners Association sure hopes so. Last week, the industry group applied to the federal government for permission to use a new name for the ingredient on food labels: "corn sugar."

Whether it's called high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar, the ingredient makes up a significant part of Americans' diets. According to the Agriculture Department, the average American ate 35.7 pounds of high fructose corn syrup last year. That's not such a surprise considering it's used as a sweetener in everything from fruit-flavored drinks and energy bars to jams, yogurts and breads.

The second,, is put on by the Corn Refiners of America, who say:

Health and nutrition experts—including doctors, dietitians, researchers and professional organizations — are in agreement that whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar.

One issue I have concerns this statement, as it conveniently omits the large amounts of government subsidies to produce corn and tariffs that keep cane sugar less competitive:

If high fructose corn syrup is the same as sugar, then why don’t we just use sugar?
The introduction of high fructose corn syrup into the food supply was intended to overcome periodic shortages in sugar availability and resulting price increases (as is the case now). High fructose corn syrup also avoided the problems posed by sugar’s instability in acidic soft drinks and fruit preparations, bagged sugar’s handling difficulties, and sugar’s functional limitations in certain foods and beverages.

Much of the debate over the overuse of HFCS could be alleviated by allowing free market forces to determine the true prices of food.

It also appears that corn sugar is used in home beer brewing:

Other sugar posts:
Evaporated Cane Juice: Part I
Evaporated Cane Juice: Part II
Caramel Apples
Sugar and the Environment
Alternative Sugar Names
A Look at Agave
Where to Buy


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