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Sucrose=bad. HFCS=badder

by Denis Faye - The Nutrition Nerd | February 8, 2012

After years of conjecture and speculation, scientists have finally figured out that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is, indeed, slightly worse for you than regular sucrose.

But before the big reveal, a little background. People often vilify HFCS, mistaking it for pure fructose, which researchers believe can cause a number of problems, including high blood pressure. That said, there are other schools of thought that point to fructose as a good sweetener for diabetics because it’s lower on the glycemic index. Either way, the truth is that sucrose – common table sugar – is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, while HFCS is typically 45% glucose and 55% fructose. It’s really not that much of a gap.

However, researchers at the University of Florida now feel that 5% makes a difference.

Careful measurements showed that the HFCS sweetened soft drinks resulted in significantly higher fructose levels than the sugar-sweetened drinks. Fructose is also known to increase uric acid levels that have been implicated in blood pressure, and the HFCS-sweetened drinks also resulted in a higher uric acid level and a 3 mm Hg greater rise in systolic blood pressure.

Okay, so I admit, “Boo, HFCS!” but before you Mexican Coke drinkers out there have yourselves a fiesta de azúcar, keep in mind that this isn’t a black-and-white discovery. It’s not like sucrose is Luke Skywalker and HFCS is Darth Vader. They’re both awful; it’s just that one is slightly more awful. So if sucrose is Darth Vader, then HFCS is Darth Maul. (I didn’t use Jabba the Hutt in this comparison because, seriously, he’s more of a victim when discussing matters of obesity. I also left out Emperor Palpatine because I like to save him for Monsanto similes.)

Any added sweetener is bad for you at the levels you get them in sodas, candy, and snack bars. If you think you’re being super healthy because that on-the-go bar you’re chomping on is sweetened with agave nectar, you’re deluding yourself.  (Of course, there are times when sugars can be okay, like when targeted around exercise, but that’s a different issue. I’m talking over-the-course-of-the-day eating.)

So keep in mind that, while HFCS might mess with your blood pressure a little, any sweetener is going to increase your chances of diabetes, obesity, acne, etc.

Contrary to the words of the great M.C Hammer, it’s all bad, bro.

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4 thoughts on “Sucrose=bad. HFCS=badder

  1. Anonymous

    Especially considering agave nectar is even higher in fructose than HFCS. Depending on the manufacturer and where it’s produced, it can be as high as 90% fructose.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    So, my once in a blue moon Snickers bar is going to give me diabetes. Flawed logic is flawed.

    Yes, if 75% of your calories comes from coke and twinkies, there might be a problem. But to vilify and entire food category is just ridiculous.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Did you read the second paragraph.? The Author clearly points out that he’s talking over the course of the day eating. He’s not talking about occasional treats eaten sparingly. He also mentioned there are times when eating sugars are ok.

    But to answer your question, eating a sinkers, compared to never eating a snickers, or anything like it, will increase your “odds” of developing diabetes. That logic is quite sound, and backed up with evidence. The author said “increase your odds of diabetes, which isn’t definitive, it’s suggestive.” Yet you said “going to give me diabetes, which is definitive.” You said something about flawed logic?

    Furthermore, any level of eating these foods does crazy things to your insulin levels, which causes your body to behave oddly, and perform erratically. So yes that once in a blue moon snickers can send your insulin levels into the stratosphere, and cause all sorts of issues.

    Vilify a “food category?” Snickers, cokes, and twinkles are a food category? HAHA That’s right up their with ketchup is a vegetable. WOW.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    This is bullshit. Environmental toxins in animal products cause diabetes.

    I am eating a 100% no-grain(gluten/rice) plant based diet and every morning I add 100g of sucrose(brown sugar) to half a liter of fresh-fruit juice and add half a liter of water. No more sugar spikes like I use to get when eating grains.

    1) Gluten pokes holes in the intestines which leads to the absorbtion of non-digested food, including sucrose in its whole.

    2) Animal products raise uric acid levels because they are high in purines.

    3) HFCS is bad because its man-made.

    Reply

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