Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sugar is sugar

I keep hearing people complain about how unhealthy High-fructose corn syrup, and how it is much worse than ordinary sugar. Here is the story.

The two simplest sugars are glucose and fructose. Ordinary table sugar is sucrose. Each sucrose molecule consists of one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule joined together. When you eat sucrose, the first thing your body does is break it down into 50% glucose and 50% fructose. All of these sugars occur naturally in many plant foods.

High-fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose and 45% glucose, plus some water to make it liquid. It is cheaper than sucrose because Iowa grows corn and Cuba grows cane sugar, and the USA has policies favoring Iowa farmers. It is easier because it is liquid.

I don't see how HFCS could be any less healthy than sucrose. It is essentially the same stuff once it gets into your body.

Update: Here is some new research:
Two papers in the journal PNAS in 2007 and 2008 showed that glucose and fructose act quite differently in the brain (hypothalamus) - glucose decreasing food intake and fructose increasing food intake. ...

The fact that fructose metabolism by the brain increases food intake and obesity risk raises health concerns in view of the large and increasing per capita consumption of high fructose sweeteners, especially by youth.
I don't know if this is significant or not. It seems to me that all good-tasting foods make me want to eat more, and bad-tasting foods make me want to eat less. So maybe that makes good-tasting foods fattening.


Cynthia1770 said...

My google alert picked up your blog. The CRA would like you to believe that HFCS-55,
55%frutose:55%glucose, is similar to sucrose, but if you do the math, it isn't. Every ratio can be expressed as a quotient and therefore calculated. 55/45=1.22.
That means that everytime you chug a drink sweetened with HFCS-55 your liver is receiving, compared to glucose, 22% extra fructose. The metabolic dangers of excess fructose have been documented. See
Dr. Dana Flavin's summary in Ditch HFCS, especially HFCS-55. has an extensive list of HFCS-free foods and beverages. To your health.

Roger said...

I checked your site, and I guess that you are referring to this article. It claims that excess consumption of sugar, either sucrose or HFCS, is correlated with type 2 diabetes. I don't doubt that too much sugar is bad for those people who have trouble metabolizing sugar.