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A—MAIZE—ing

Corn, high fructose corn syrup in soda and everywhere else

Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07


I'm here to introduce the triumph of the plant world: Zea mays or, as we commonly know it, corn. Corn was, in many ways, what separated successful villages or colonies from those that dwindled or faded out of existence. This is because corn can be used as both a commodity and a food source. 

Even while venturing through the grocery store today, corn is a lot more than a cob — it's in the canyons of breakfast cereals, shelves of snacks and canopies of soft drinks.

In America convenience is critical. Let'shead to the processed food isle, where we find chicken nuggets. A chicken nugget piles corn upon corn: What chicken is contained consists of corn, including modified corn starch that acts as an adhesive — holding the chicken together — the corn flour in the batter that coats the nugget and the corn oil in which it is cooked. Then you have the leavenings and lecithin, the mono-, di- and triglycerides, the attractive golden coloring and even the citric acid, which keeps the nugget "fresh." This can all be derived from corn.  

To wash down your chicken nuggets with virtually any soft drink, you can have some corn with your corn.

In 1984, Pepsi and Coca-Cola announced plans to stop using sugar in soft drinks, replacing the sweetener with high fructose corn syrup. After water, corn sweetener is now both drinks' No. 2 ingredient.  Grab a beer instead and you'd still be drinking corn, in the form of alcohol, fermented from glucose and refined from corn.

Corn obviously influences many products, but how is it intricately related to our wellness?

For one, I want those reading to know that when I refer to corn I am referring to corn in its zilions of uses and I think for simplicity's sake, it's best if I target the integrity of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  It goes without saying that the typical American diet is not balanced.  Most meals consist of grain or grain-based food products (such as drinks laced with HFCS).

It may come as no surprise that corn is the worst type of grain — it has the worst fatty acid profile(Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio).  My last blog post outlines the importance of Omega 3 and Vitaminology.

In comparison to sucrose, research from Princeton University shows that HFCS has a strong link to obesity. In testing rats: the rats that drank HFCS became obese versus the rats that drank sucrose. The researchers surmised that "excess fructose is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles."

The American public didn't always suffer from obesity or diabetes prevalence.  Although many factors contribute to the increase in these otherwise-preventable health issues, there are few substantial alternative explanations to the the obesity boom — especially as graphical representations of the HFCS installment in America so closely relate to obesity percentages.

But propaganda assuages the situation, this time in the form of a commercial sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association.

The most ambiguous factor related to high fructose corn syrup is whether or not it is ‘natural.'

According to the commercial, HFCS is natural, "coming from corn."  Truth is, the engineering of corn sweetener is a complicated industry that requires the use of enzymes and a series of chemical developments. This is relevant because the processing of any product (i.e. the creation of HFCS) fundamentally modifies the composition of reactants (the corn) and subjects it to potential contamination. Please don't be suckered into this notion that HFCS is natural, because it is merely a marketing gimmick to alleviate consumers that what they are eating is similar to that in the produce section of the grocery store.

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