High fructose corn syrup contains reactive dicarbonyls - study

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By David Liu PHD

Sunday, March 4, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- High fructose corn syrup or HFCS is not merely a mixture of glucose and fructose.  A study released in the March 1, 2012 issue of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry found high fructose corn syrup commonly contains small amounts of reactive alpha-dicarbonyl compounds, which can react with proteins causing neurodegenerative disease among other things. And early studies found high intake of fructose was associated with high risk of dementia.

The study led by S. Gensberger and colleagues of University of Erlangen-Nurember in Erlangen, Germany was intended to profile the major alpha-dicarbonyls in HFCS.

The researchers used hyphenated diode array-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-DAD-MS/MS) and identified 3-Deoxy-D: -erythro-hexos-2-ulose (3-deoxyglucosone), D: -lyxo-hexos-2-ulose (glucosone), 3-deoxy-D: -threo-hexos-2-ulose (3-deoxygalactosone), 1-deoxy-D: -erythro-hexos-2,3-diulose (1-deoxyglucosone), 3,4-dideoxyglucosone-3-ene, methylglyoxal, and glyoxal.

They further quantified 3-deoxyglucosone, glucosone, 3-deoxygalactosone, 1-deoxyglucosone, 3,4-dideoxyglucosone-3-ene, and methylglyoxal in 14 commercial HFCS samples.  3-deoxyglucosone was found to be the major alpha-dicarbonyl compound in the sweetener and HFCS samples contained up to 730 ug/mL HFCS.

The researchers suggested that the amount of alpha-dicarbonyls was influenced by the production procedure.

Early, Dr. Chi-Tang Ho at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey and colleagues found high levels of dicarbonyls in HFCS, which were also found high in the blood of diabetes patients, suggesting that these dicarbonyls may play a role in the etiology of diabetes.  

This sweetener has been associated with the obesity epidemic in the United States.  A study published online March 18, 2010 by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior showed consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused more weight gain in lab animals than table sugar when both sweeteners were consumed in equal quantity.  HFCS was also found to increase blood fat triglycerides.

Recently, HFCS has been associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

High fructose corn syrup is commonly used in processed food and beverages because of its superior sweet taste and low cost for production.   

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