Corn syrups help add eye appeal to the fruit by imparting a shiny, glossy surface appearance when the fruit is served in a dish or tray.

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From: Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Second Edition), 2003

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Jacqueline B. Marcus MS, RD, LD, CNS, FADA, in Culinary Nutrition, 2013

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is actually a group of corn or potato syrups. They have been processed by enzymes to increase the fructose content; then they are mixed with pure corn syrup (100 percent glucose). HFCS does not contain any artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives, and it meets the FDA’s requirements for the term natural. HFCS is relatively inexpensive.

HFCS, table sugar (sucrose), honey, and several fruit juices all contain the same type of simple sugars. Sucrose and HFCS contain nearly the same one-to-one ratio of fructose and glucose. Sucrose is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose; HFCS is 42 to 55 percent fructose, with the remaining sugars from glucose and other sugars. The type of HFCS that is most commonly used in soft drinks is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose (HFCS-55). HFCS-42 is less sweet and is used in many fruit-flavored noncarbonated beverages and in baked goods.

HFCS has the same number of calories per teaspoon as table sugar (4 calories per gram) and is equal in sweetness to table sugar. In addition to its sweetening properties, HFCS helps to keep foods fresh, lowers the freezing point, retains moisture in bran cereals and breakfast bars, enhances fruit and spice flavors, promotes surface browning, and provides fermentability.

The amount of HFCS in fruit juice and soda has been implicated as a contributing factor in obesity and diabetes, but this correlation remains to be proven. Both sucrose and HFCS appear to be metabolized the same way in the body. Pure fructose can stimulate the liver to produce triglycerides and induce insulin resistance, risk factors in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Studies that compare HFCS to sucrose conclude that they essentially have the same physiological effects, with little or no evidence that HFCS is different from sucrose in its effects on appetite or the metabolic processes that are involved in fat storage. An expert panel concluded that the current evidence is insufficient to implicate HFCS as a causal factor in overweight and obesity in the United States. Like many other sweeteners and dietary substances, HFCS should be used in moderation along with a well-balanced diet, if at all.

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This is another area of nutrition worth watching, as fruit drink and soft drink consumption have dramatically risen since the 1970s, while dairy milk, a more nutritious beverage, has fallen <22,23,24>.