08 July, 2011
High-Fructose Corn Syrup vs. Honey
High fructose corn syrup and honey are both sweeteners that help make foods more appealing to taste. High Fructose Corn Syrup, or HFCS, has been used as a sweetener in soft drinks, candy and other packaged and produced food items, while honey is naturally produced by bees and has been used by various cultures as a sweetener for thousands of years. Both have similar metabolic structures and contain fructose, but many differences have individuals wondering which is safe to use and have in their homes.
Sugar has a specific chemical makeup and can be classified as a monosaccharide, a disaccharide, which is a compound made up of two monosaccharides or a polysaccharide, which is multiple compounds linked together. Most of the sugars that are used in cooking and baking come from sugar cane or sugar beet. Sugar cane is milled and refined into table sugar also known as sucrose and is a monosaccharide. Sugar beet is mostly used in syrups and beverages but still contains high concentrated levels of sucrose. Sucrose, fructose and glucose are the main molecules found in most sweeteners along with lactose and maltose that are found in milk products.
Honey is 82% sugar and the rest mostly being water. Of the 82% that is sugar, 43% is glucose and 50% is fructose. HFCS roughly contains 55% fructose and 42% glucose. Both then have small amounts of sucrose and other trace ingredients that complete the chemical makeup. This breakdown shows that honey and high fructose corn syrup both have similar chemical structures and are nutritionally the same.
History of High Fructose Corn Syrup
Due to the growing popularity of sweet treats and candy, manufacturers created HFCS to cut costs and increase profits. Developers took sucrose molecules and broke them apart into separate glucose and fructose molecules. Fructose is much sweeter then glucose and sucrose so it allowed manufacturers to use less sugar while giving their products more sweetness.
There have been developments and claims stating that HFCS poses great threats to personal health, including increased risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. Studies done by the USDA and American Dietetic Association show fructose is the main source for health concerns, not HFCS. Large amounts of fructose can lead to high levels of lipids or fats in the blood, also known as hyperlipidemia, as well as increased risks of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Honey and HFCS are similar in nutritional structure and both can pose great threats to health if not used in moderation. One should consider reducing the use of HFCS as well as all sweeteners, including honey. Make sure your diet is full of fresh fruits and vegetables that are naturally sweet. Keep sugared cereals, snacks and treats to a minimum in your pantry and focus on getting plenty of exercise. Remember that balance and moderation are vital in every aspect of your life, including the sweeteners you find in your cupboard.
- Drop of honey image by Andrey Kulygin from Fotolia.com