Is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) a Natural Product?

The controversy over high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) continues to stir in the nutrition world. A part of it that keeps coming up is whether HFCS can be considered a “natural” product. The HFCS industry makes their claims, the vast majority of nutritionists make opposite claims, and the federal government seems to want to just stay out of it. That leaves us trying to sort out the truth so we can make healthy choices for ourselves and our families.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is made from corn starch and is processed into the sugar compositions glucose and either 42 percent fructose or 55 percent fructose. For comparison chemically, table sugar is 50/50 glucose and fructose. Both glucose and fructose occur naturally and both can be synthesized. HFCS is synthesized and contains no other nutrients. There is an ongoing investigation into the presence of contaminants that are byproducts of the chemical processes. The HFCS industry flatly states that it is a natural product because it originates from corn. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the use of the word “natural” to any extent and they seem reticent to get involved in challenging an industry generating billions of dollars in revenue.

Making HFCS begins by milling corn into corn starch. It then undergoes a series of processes to alter it chemically according to a complex formula. The origin of the product is certainly natural, although the corn is GMO which has it’s own list of issues. But can you really call something a “natural” product that has been processed so heavily that it no longer resembles anything found anywhere in nature? Natural products may contain these sugars, but always along with a long list of other things that have actual nutritional value. The synthesized sugars of HFCS, even if derived from a natural product, have no nutritional value. So while the owners of the chemical factories producing HFCS are splitting hairs over the use of the word “natural”, perhaps we should just ignore the rhetoric and look at whether or not we should be consuming this stuff.

High Fructose Corn Syrup has not been shown to have any nutritional benefit to the human body whatsoever. This fact isn’t even disputed in the HFCS propaganda where they attack any dissenting opinions to their positions and label them “myths”. What is not a myth in any way is the proven health hazard of consuming too much HFCS. The argument that other sweeteners also produce health problems in no way negates the fact that HFCS is a proven health hazard in regular consumption. It isn’t overtly toxic and occasional consumption isn’t any issue in most healthy individuals. But it has no nutritional benefit and regular intake can cause a variety of adverse health effects. This is a natural fact.

Sweetness dances across our taste buds and makes food and beverages delicious. I love sweetness. What I don’t love is sickness. HFCS is an inexpensive way to make things sweet, but it does nothing to make them good for you. What starts out as a natural product is an unnaturally sweet chemical that is proven to be an unhealthy part of a regular diet. There are other ways to treat your taste buds that won’t decrease your quality of life and longevity, naturally.