Nutrition: Fuel the Machine

Nutrition is the science behind what fuels the machine. With the proper fuel, your body has a chance to operate at its optimum capacity. But this is just the power that drives the machine. It's just the juice, the charge. The rest is up to you. A jet needs jet fuel, but it also needs a powerful engine to drive it. This portal is about the fuel. See our Exercise portal for help building your engine.

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Since its launch in 2003, Nutrition Data has grown into one of the most credible and useful sources of nutritional analysis on the Web. Nutrition Data's continuing goal is to provide the most accurate and comprehensive nutrition analysis available, and to make it accessible and understandable to all.

Nutrition Data is chock full of information on nutrition. The site includes resources on dieting and weight loss, a daily needs calculator, articles, blogs, recipes, and much more.

The information in Nutrition Data's database comes from the USDA's National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference and is supplemented by listings provided by restaurants and food manufacturers. The source for each individual food item is listed in the footnotes of that food's analysis page. In addition to food composition data, Nutrition Data also provides a variety of proprietary tools to analyze and interpret that data. These interpretations represent Nutrition Data's opinion and are based on calculations derived from Daily Reference Values (DRVs), Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs), published research, and recommendations of the FDA.

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High fructose corn syrup, the first scientifically engineered sugar, was created in 1967.[1][2] It is a combination of fructose and glucose; HFCS is cheaper to manufacture than natural, cane-derived sugar, and is 1.16 times sweeter.[1] HFSC contains more fructose than sugar.[3] In 1970, less than one percent of all sweeteners in America were HFCS. As of 2008, it accounts for half of all sweeters, with the US being the largest HFCS consumer and producer in the world.[1] It is most commonly used in sodas (A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup.[4]), fruit-flavored drinks and other processed foods. [5] It is also hidden in unexpected places, like Ritz crackers, Wonder bread, Wishbone ranch dressing and Campbell's tomato soup.[2]

Manufacturing HFCS

High-fructose corn syrup is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose[5]; then the glucose is processed to produce a high percentage of fructose[3]. Three different enzymes are required to break down cornstarch into the simple sugars glucose and fructose.

First, cornstarch, which is composed of chains of glucose molecules of almost infinite length, is treated with alpha-amylase to produce shorter chains of sugars called polysaccharides. Next, an enzyme called glucoamylase breaks down the sugar chains even further to yield the simple sugar glucose. The third enzyme, glucose-isomerase, converts glucose into a mixture of about 42% fructose and 50-52% glucose with some other sugars mixed in. Alpha-amylase and glucoamylase get added directly; because glucose-isomerase is so expenseve, it is packed into columns and the sugar mixture is then passed over it. The inexpensive alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are used only once while glucose-isomerase is reused until it loses most of its activity. The first of the final two steps involves a liquid chromatography step that takes the mixture to 90 percent fructose. Lastly, this is back-blended with the original mixture to yield a final concentration of about 55% fructose--high-fructose corn syrup.[3] Normal table sugar is comprised of 50% glucose and 50% sucrose.[6].


Some nutrition experts blame increased consumption of HFCS for the growing obesity problem.[5] One theory is that fructose is more readily converted to fat by your liver than is sucrose, forcing the liver to increase the levels of fat in the bloodstream. The body processes fructose in high-fructose corn syrup differently than it does cane or beet sugar, which alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function.[4] This has yet to be proven, however, many scientific articles and news reports have noted that since 1980, obesity rates have climbed at a rate remarkably similar to that of high-fructose corn syrup consumption.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Di Leo, Jane (April 2008). "Sugar Overload". Women's Health (magazine) (April 2008): 148-151. Rodale Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Melanie Warner (July 2006). A Sweetener With a Bad Rap. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Linda Joyce Forristal. The Murky World of High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Retrieved on 2008-04-16.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kim Severson (Feb 2004). Sugar coated. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Katherine Zeratsky (n.d.). High-fructose corn syrup: Why is it so bad for me?. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.
  6. HFCS Facts. What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.

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