Sugar: Just as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup?

by Camille on March 18, 2011

Sugar Cubes

I’m a fan of real sugar. That’s not to say that I eat it all the time–I’ve written here before about how difficult it is to keep sugar consumption in check–but if if I’m going to have a treat, I’d rather it was made from sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

A recent story in Mother Jones got me thinking, though. The writer points out that sugar and HFCS are almost identical in terms of their fructose content–and unlike glucose, which the body uses almost instantly for fuel, fructose is the sweetener that’s “sent to the liver for processing … it causes a buildup of fats there, triggering a host of health problems including diabetes, gout, and heart disease … it can lead to insulin resistance, a hormonal snafu that makes you feel hungry even when you’re full.”

The author doesn’t delve into the research that shows that beyond obesity, HFCS has specifically been tied to some pretty nasty health problems, like fatty liver disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. I’m not suggesting that sugar should have a health halo–but until more research shows that regular old sugar is as problematic as HFCS, it’s still going to be my indulgence of choice.

What do you think? Sugar or HFCS?


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Lauren Slayton March 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

I haven’t read the article. Many sugars are chemically similar (thus why they’re all sugars). It’s hard to argue with what’s happened to our health and weight since HFCS’s introduction to the marketplace. We know this it’s not good. Sugar isn’t healthy either but it’s sugar, we’ve known it for a while and know we have to control it. I’m with you sugar, honey, maple syrup in moderation. If fructose were the devil we shouldn’t eat fruit either…

Jen March 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

I also agree – sugar but in moderation. It’s just not a heavily processed ingredient the way HFCS is. But mostly, if you make it a point to avoid HFCS (or just really limit it), then you’ll be staying away from most processed foods, which is really good for your diet. I try (but don’t always succeed) to follow the rule that, if I can’t make it myself, I don’t eat it. That doesn’t mean I won’t buy prepackaged granola bars or whatever, but at least they resemble a natural food and can be made without a bunch of synthetic ingredients like HFCS.

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