High Fructose Corn Syrup sample essay
We owe a great deal to the Native Americans who introduced the Pilgrims to the maize plant. They were the first to realize its great potential as a main stable in our diets. We took that simple little plant and transformed it into the most grown grain in the United States. It has been genetically enhanced to the point that it can now produce two hundred bushels of corn or better per acre (Pollan, p.37) making corn the ideal item to be transformed into our sweetener for numerous things. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has become our new best friend as it is made from the corn plant by a process of enzymatic manipulation. It has made its way into our lives as a sweetener in almost anything that needs to be sweetened it is also used as a preservative for meat. Many studies and debates have come to light about whether High Fructose Corn Syrup is good or bad for you.
High Fructose Corn Syrup has been attributed to the rise in Type II Diabetes in the world and obesity in America. Being inclined toward not wanting this man-made sugar in one’s diet may be a healthy choice but you have to find the products not made with it first. Many of our processed foods have it included in its many ingredients as a sugar substitute because it is cheaper to produce than table sugar. Bread is just one example of a processed food that normally does not have High Fructose Corn Syrup in it. Looking through the bread section at a local grocery store, only one company has not added High Fructose Corn Syrup to its list of ingredients.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) was invented in the 1960’s in Japan and brought to the United States food supply in the early 1970’s where it was perfected and now used in roughly forty-five thousand products. The manufacturers hide it and you have to become a really good label reader to find it. HFCS is equally as sweet as or sweeter than table sugar. It can blend well with foods, can used as a preservative and is less expensive. Some of the leading products with HFCS to date are sodas, jelly, ice cream and alcohol.
Two types of this corn syrup exist in our foods today. The first contains a mix of 55% fructose/45% glucose, which can be found in soda and the second has 42% fructose/52% glucose can be found on other products like deserts and canned fruit. The slight differences in HFCS and table sugar are almost nominal with the difference being a mere 10% higher ratio in fructose.
The major differences between sugar and HFCS are that sugar is chemically bonded; making the body work harder to break down the products and HFCS is blended, which makes it easier for the body to absorb and metabolize it. Corn syrup is not really sweet until it undergoes the rigorous process of transforming it into the HFCS; it then becomes sweeter than table sugar. Researchers have said there are no major differences in how the body takes care of the breakdown as both sugars are digested very rapidly and claimed that they have the same effects.
Americans are accused of being overweight by other countries standards yet we are the biggest producers of corn. Without the government supplementing our need for corn we would not have the HFCS that has become a component of our daily lives. Marion Nestle an expert on food policy and a professor at New York University stated “Diabetes is not caused by consumption of too much HFCS but it’s a function of development. The more cars, TVs, cellphones, sugar, meat, fat, calories, the more diabetes you have.”
Americans have not only taken in up to fifty-five pounds of excess sugar but are continuing to eat when we are beyond full, possibly one side effect of the HFCS that keeps getting shoved down our throat whether we want it or not. Researchers say that fructose doesn’t have any effect on the hormones, leptin and ghrelin, that play a part in telling our bodies how much to eat and that decreased activity and exercise levels with increased fat consumption play a bigger role in the obesity issue.
Dr. Alan Gaby says that excessive amounts of sucrose, fructose or HFCS can lead to a wide range of health problems and that fructose and HFCS may be more dangerous that sucrose. The consumption of these sugars may also lead to a copper deficiency in our bodies as Western food is considered low in the mineral. The surgeon general has informed us of the obesity problem and yet we can still find the cheapest and unhealthiest calories in the supermarket.
Type II diabetes has become a worldwide problem. In many countries where HFCS is used, it has increased the chance of developing the disease by 20 percent. HFCS can be found most providently in the United States and then Hungary where it is claimed each person ingests forty-six pounds of the sugar combination. The United Kingdom and China are in the list of the lowest users of HFCS and lower still was India, topping the list, starting at 0.5 kilograms each year. Stanley Ulijaszek, director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford says,” This syrup can be found in many processed foods and drinks, it varies from country to country.”
Since most of the countries that use HFCS have a higher rate of developing the disease, it might be a good idea to start cutting back on its usage. Healthier choices could include cutting sugar out of our diets entirely as it is said to be an acquired taste and getting more exercise to combat the amount of sugar we do consume. There are many countries that use the sweetener but not as heavily as the United States and therefore have a much lower percentage of diabetes occurring.
One article says that there is no link to obesity but a newer article cites because of the heavier use of HFCS, obesity has increased with it. Too much fructose is not good for you and is only processed by your liver. The excess sugar is turned into fats which becomes harmful to the heart and arteries. It can also lead to a host of other side effects. The list of health problems stemming from HFCS seems to be getting longer and more life threatening. Developing chronic diarrhea to high triglycerides has been mentioned in almost all the articles found so far but is still deemed safe to use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Watching your waistline has become America’s past time for many decades. Finding ways to reduce our weight has become an American obsession. One option to help lower the chance of developing diabetes and obesity is to cut back on sugar consumption and eat healthier alternatives like fruit and getting more exercise. Another option is to cut sugar completely from our diets and eat more whole grains and start eating more home-cooked meals.
The debate on table sugar versus High Fructose Corn Syrup still goes on. With High Fructose Corn Syrup continuing to increase to occurrence of type II diabetes and obesity in our society, it would be to our benefit if more farms could get away from the corn production and get back to growing healthier foods. This is an alternative that many should consider since knowing what is being put on your table and how you prepared it doesn’t have all the extra sugars in it.
It wouldn’t have all the preservatives that a McDonald’s meal would have or the calories. The weight gain and obesity might diminish and the possibility of type II diabetes may start fading if we were to get up and move more to work off all the excess sugar that is consumed in our modern lives. Our health as a nation would increase if we did not have jobs that kept us stationary and eating all the “health” food at McDonald’s just because it is easier than cooking a home cooked meal.
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