Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
If one were to analyze the chemistry of a large percentage of foods available to U.S. consumers, you would find a byproduct of corn and sugar. Aside from the obvious economic reasons, are there any health benefits that would warrant such a huge addition of these byproducts?
A: This is a complex question dealing with geo-economic and cultural elements. If you also analyze the agricultural production of the U.S., you will find that corn is a large component of it. I think this is a case of supply driving the demand instead of the other way around. Almost every soft drink or juice is laced with high fructose corn syrup or some corn derivative. It’s a shame that we cannot find better uses for all that corn, such as ethanol for alternative fuels.
From a nutritional perspective there is very little in way of beneficial contribution from these additives. I think the inclusion of these additives has created a nation that is addicted to sweets.
I always recommend to my patients that they replace all these sugars and artificial sweeteners with natural products, such as Stevia or honey. Better yet, we consume ample complex sugars from our daily vegetables and fruits anyway so why do we need to add more sugar.