Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury
Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.
HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average.
“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies, said in a prepared statement.
The Corn Refiners Association is seeking to change the name of
High-Fructose Corn Syrup to Corn Sugar.
This is a genius move.
For one thing, High-Fructose Corn Syrup has a terrible reputation. It’s really bad for you, but then so is any other kind of sugar, and yet people who care about health somehow think that normal “sugar” is much better than HFCS, for no really good reason. It’s at a terrible disadvantage.
So right off the bat, changing the name to Corn Sugar will help shed the negative thoughts associated with High-Fructose Corn Syrup.
But it’s not just that. Corn Sugar will soon become desirable.
You can hear it now, parents telling other parents: “What, you feed your kids normal sugar? We only let our kid eat sweets sweetened with corn sugar.”
Or cereal companies will proudly display: This cereal is made with 100% pure corn sugar. Seriously, the brand cache — because it has a vegetable in the name, and because it has the word “sugar” — will be huge.
Now it’s just a matter of letting the government change the name.
High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener and preservative. High-fructose corn syrup is made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose — another form of sugar. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose. Because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar, high-fructose corn syrup has become a popular ingredient in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and other processed foods.
So far, research has yielded conflicting results about the effects of high-fructose corn syrup. For example, various early studies showed an association between increased consumption of sweetened beverages (many of which contained high-fructose corn syrup) and obesity. But recent research — some of which is supported by the beverage industry — suggests that high-fructose corn syrup isn’t intrinsically less healthy than other sweeteners, nor is it the root cause of obesity.
While research continues, moderation remains important. Many beverages and other processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Regularly including these products in your diet has the potential to promote obesity — which, in turn, promotes conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
If you’re concerned about the amount of high-fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners in your diet, consider these tips:
- Limit processed foods.
- Avoid foods that contain added sugar.
- Choose fresh fruit rather than fruit juice or fruit-flavored drinks. Even 100 percent fruit juice has a high concentration of sugar.
- Choose fruit canned in its own juices instead of heavy syrup.
- Drink less soda.
- Don’t allow sweetened beverages to replace milk, especially for children.