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Posted by on Feb 4, 2010 in Commentary | 0 comments

Sugar vs High Fructose Corn Syrup: What’s in a name?

The Centre for Consumer Freedom (CCF) recently poured vinegar on a recent Sugar Association campaign to sweeten the image of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The sugar industry trade group is promoting a distinction between sugar, which is mostly glucose, and HFCS, which is mostly fructose:

“When it comes to nutrition, a sugar is a sugar, period. Whether it is sugar from beets, cane, or corn, sugars used to sweeten foods and beverages have the same number of calories.”

Is that true? Even if sugar and HFCS have the same number of calories, does the body process and utilize them in the same way? Recent science has shown that a calorie is not just a calorie, and the human body processes calories from fats, proteins and carbs in different ways. It even processes sugars differently.

Robert H. Lustig, M.D., University of California at San Francisco professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, would vehemently disagree with the CCF’s claim that sugar and HFCS are equals — except that they’re equally bad for you.

Our bodies process glucose and fructose in a totally different ways, according to Dr. Lustig. Glucose is processed mostly in the pancreas and utilized by most cells in the body and very little is stored as fat. Fructose is processed mostly in the liver in a similar manner to alcohol. Most of the fructose ends up stored as fat the same way that ethanol from alcoholic beverages is stored as fat. Just as overconsumption of alcohol can create the infamous “beer gut,” overconsumption of HCFS-sweetened sodas and other foods can create a “soda gut” too.

I’ve found that the easiest way to avoid HFCS in your food is to read labels on food packaging and consider buying certified-organic products whenever possible, particularly when purchasing sweet sauces such barbecue sauce and ketchup.

For more information on this controversy, start your research at:

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