If you’ve seen any of the print and TV ads being promoted by the Corn Refiners Association lately – the ones implying that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is essentially the same as table sugar – you may be rightfully confused. In this post, we will set the record straight.

While it is true that HFCS and table sugar (sucrose) both contain fructose and glucose, are sweet and that they both contain 4 calories/gram, any similarity between the two ends there. Many health experts have identified the high consumption of HFCS as one of the prominent factors in our country’s current obesity epidemic. Here’s why:

  • The Corn Refiners Association states that HFCS “is made from corn, a natural grain product.” The key phrase here is made from. It’s not natural – it’s highly processed. In fact, HFCS is made by altering the starch molecules naturally found in corn so that those fructose molecules are more easily absorbed by the body. Once more, most, if not all of the corn used to produce HFCS has been genetically modified.
  • Table sugar is exactly half fructose and half glucose. Despite claims that HFCS is the same as sugar, the standard formula for HFCS is 55 percent fructose, 42 percent glucose and 3 percent higher saccharides (i.e., larger sugar molecules). However, an analysis of sweetened beverages published in 2011 in the journal Obesity found much different compositions, stating that “several major brands appear to be produced with HFCS that is 65 percent fructose.”
  • In two recent studies at Princeton University, rats fed HFCS gained substantially more weight than those fed equal amounts of table sugar. The rats also experienced increased fat in the abdominal region – known as visceral abdominal fat – and an increase in triglycerides, which is a type of fat that circulates in the blood. Both visceral abdominal fat and elevated triglycerides are known to dramatically increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

You are sending a message to your body with the foods you choose to eat. You can send a message to raise or lower stress hormones, increase or decrease fat production and/or repair or breakdown your tissues. A large part of your life is dependent on the foods you choose to eat – choose wisely.

References
  1. “The Effects of High-Fructose Corn Syrup” by¬† SM Moeller, et al., J Am Coll Nutr, 12/09.
  2. “High Dietary Fructose Intake: Sweet or Bitter Life?” by M Collino, World J Diabetes 06/11.
  3. “High-Fructose Corn Syrup Causes Characteristics of Obesity in Rats…” by ME Bocarsly, et al., Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 11/10.
  4. “The Role of High-Fructose Corn Syrup in Metabolic Syndrome and Hypertension” by L Ferder, et al., Curr Hypertens Rep, O4/10.
  5. “Sugar Content of Popular Sweetened Beverages Based on Objective Laboratory Analysis…” by EE Ventura, et al., Obesity (Silver Spring), 04/11.
  6. “A Sweet Problem: Princeton Researchers Find that High-Fructose Corn Syrup Prompts Considerably More Weight Gain,” Princeton University, 03/22/10.