Sorry, but I can’t seem to let go of this HFCS thing. After I published my original sugar post, I thought I was finished with that subject. But no, the Corn Refiner’s Association had to come up with those deceptively sweet commercials and I got caught up in it again. And now, with Halloween right around the corner — well, I just can’t help myself.
What prompted this revival of my HFCS interest (obsession)? I recently read that twenty million pounds of candy corn are sold in the United States each year, most of it around Halloween. What? How can that be? And what is candy corn, anyway?
Before I launch into part 3 of my sugar diabtribe, imagine this. I’m at K-Mart this morning sneaking around the bulk (and I mean BULK) candy isle (now called Seasonal Favorites), which by the way, is several miles long and conveniently located next to the Health & Beauty section. I’m wearing a tattered London Fog trench coat, a Blondie wig, and Jackie O sunglasses. Why? Because I’m a nutrition therapist on an anti-HFCS rant and here I am buying candy corn by the 5 pound bag. Hypocrisy aside, that just doesn’t look good.
But I digress. Back to the mission at hand. What exactly is candy corn and how could we possibly consume 20 million pounds of the stuff each year?
According to my sources (Wikipedia and the National Confectioners Association), candy corn is made from sugar, corn syrup, honey, carnauba wax, fondant, and marshmallows. Okay, so we’ve got sugar, sugar, and sugar for the first 3 ingredients. Carnauba wax and fondant? Does that sound nasty to you?
Carnauba wax is what gives candy corn its glossy look. The wax is collected from a plant, then refined and bleached. It’s used in car wax, furniture polish, shoe polish, and candy corn.
Now we have sugar, sugar, sugar, and bleached wax. Yum!
On to fondant, which is sugar and water cooked to a “soft-ball” stage.
Sugar, sugar, sugar, bleached wax, and sugar.
Aaah, some redemption in the last ingredient. Marshmallows. We all know what marshmallows are, right? No? Well, guess what? Marshmallows are made from sugar, corn syrup, water, gelatin, dextrose, and flavorings — whipped to a spongy consistency. Before I wrap this up, you need to know two more things. Gelatin is usually made from collagen extracted from the bones, connective tissue, intestines, and organs of cows. And remember when I mentioned in sugar post #1 that words ending in “ose” usually indicate — you guessed it — sugar!
If I’m correct, candy corn is made from (drum roll, please), sugar, sugar, sugar, bleached wax, sugar, sugar, sugar, cow connective tissue, sugar, and flavorings. “Flavorings” being the mystery ingredient as I couldn’t figure that one out. Maybe we don’t want to know.
Bottom line? Skip the candy corn and here’s why.
First off, much of the sugar in candy corn is in the form of HFCS. New research published in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition shows that the ratio of fructose to glucose is important in how efficiently we turn sugar into body fat. Three different test groups were used. One group drank a 100% glucose drink, one group a 50% glucose/50% fructose mix, and the final group a 25% glucose/75% fructose mix. All three groups consumed the mixture in the morning. To make a long and rather complicated story short, body fat synthesis was measured immediately after these sugar drinks were consumed showing a significant increase in lipogenesis as the fructose concentration went up. Lipogenesis is the process in which sugars are converted to body fat.
The higher fructose mix given at breakfast also impacted the way the body dealt with lunch fats, increasing the storage of converted fats rather than using them for other purposes. Once the process was kick-started in the morning, it continued. Dr. Elizabeth Parks, the lead scientist conducting the study, noted that people trying to lose weight shouldn’t eliminate fresh fruit from their diets (the sugar in fruit is fructose), but should eliminate processed foods containing refined sugar and HFCS. The relatively small amount of sugar in fresh fruit is mixed with fiber, bulk and other good things which minimizes the lipogenesis potential.
As I mentioned in my first sugar post, sugar is not inherently evil and is not the sole cause of our obesity epidemic, but it does contribute. Americans eat too much fat, too much sugar, too much protein, too many calories and we don’t get enough exercise. Obesity is the result of a combination of things. And although those recent HFCS commercials suggest it is a natural substance and is fine in moderation, this new study indicates this version of sugar might put you on the fast track to weight gain. HFCS may be “natural” but it boosts fat storage, so eliminate it from your diet. Instead, use honey, maple syrup, or molasses in moderation.
And don’t touch that candy corn.
In good health,