High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sugar replacement that is cheaper to use in foods than actual table sugar (sucrose). The name refers to corn syrups which have undergone enzymatic processing in order to increase their fructose content.

Recently (September 2008) the Corn Refiners Association has been running adverts trying to improve the image of high fructose corn syrup.

Taste

High fructose corn syrup tastes, according to most people, worse than regular sucrose. However, this is probably a placebo effect, as there is only a 5% +- difference in fructose/glucose composition between HFCS55 and cane sugar.

Bad or good?

Andrew Weil says:
HCFS may also promote weight gain because it behaves in the body more like fat than glucose, the blood sugar derived from other sweet foods. Some evidence suggests that fructose may disturb liver function, and unlike glucose, doesn't appear to trigger the process by which the body tells us it is full. What's more, in men (not in women) HFCS appears to elevate triglycerides, blood fats that increase the risk of heart disease.

And then there's the environmental impact, a serious concern. Journalist and agriculture industry critic Michael Pollen points out that growing all the corn needed for HFCS depletes soil nutrients, which increases the need for pesticides and fertilizer. In March 2008, the Washington Post quoted Pollan as saying that a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where "virtually nothing will live" has been starved of oxygen by the fertilizer runoff coming down the Mississippi from the corn belt. Pollan also notes that federal corn subsidies keep prices of products containing HFCS low, and that - plus the sweetness - feeds the public demand for these foods.

Giving up products containing HFCS will benefit your health, help control your weight, and if enough people get the message, protect the planet as well.


Here's another article about it:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2004/02/18/FDGS24VKMH1.DTL

The Verdict

High fructose corn syrup is probably no worse for you than regular sugar. However, it's best to simply avoid most types of sugar altogether.