Cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup are actually harmful when consumed at pharmacological doses of 35 kilograms per person per year. Our hunter-gather ancestors consumed the equivalent of 20 teaspoons a year. In that sense, I agree with the corn industry that sugar is sugar. But it is not only the quantity that counts, but also the quality.
2. SHFD and cane sugar are not biochemically identical or treated in the same way by the body.
High fructose corn syrup is an industrial food product and far from being “natural” or a natural substance. The sugars are extracted using a chemical enzymatic process that results in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS.
Standard cane sugar (sucrose) consists of glucose and fructose in equal amounts. The enzymes in your digestive tract must break down sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the body. HFCS is also composed of glucose and fructose, but not in a ratio of 50-50, in a ratio of 55 glucose to fructose in unbound form. Fructose9 sugar more than glucose. And HFCS is cheaper than sugar thanks to government subsidies for corn subsidies. Fructose10 goes directly to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats such as triglycerides and cholesterol).
3. HFCS contains contaminants, including mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA.
An FDA researcher has asked corn farmers to ship a barrel of high fructose corn syrup to test for contaminants. After numerous refusals, the study showed that HFCS often contains toxic amounts of mercury because of the alkaline chlorinated products used in its manufacture. (I) Poisoned sugar is certainly not “natural”. When the HFCS goes under a chemical analyzer or a chromatograph, strange chemical peaks appear that are not glucose or fructose.
4. Independent experts in medicine and nutrition do not support the use of HFCS in our diet, despite the claims of the corn industry.
Barry M. Popkin, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has published extensively on the dangers of sugary drinks and their contribution to the obesity epidemic. In a review of HFCS in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (ii), he explains the mechanism by which fructose-free 11 can contribute to obesity. He states that: “Digestion, absorption, and metabolism of fructose differs from that of glucose. Hepatic metabolism of fructose12 promotes de novo lipogenesis (production of fat in the liver).
In addition, unlike glucose, fructose13 does not stimulate insulin secretion nor increases leptin production. Calorie sweetened drinks can increase caloric overconsumption. “He says that HFCS is absorbed faster than regular sugar and does not stimulate the production of insulin or leptin. This prevents you from triggering satiety signals to the body and can result in overconsumption of total calories.
5. HFCS is almost always present in disease-laden, nutrient-poor industrial food products.
If you see “high fructose corn syrup14” on the label, you can be sure that it is not a whole food, real, fresh, full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. We still need to reduce our overall sugar consumption, but with this simple dietary change, you can dramatically reduce your health risks and improve your health.
The real problems are only two.
We consume HFCS and sugar in pharmacological quantities never known in human history: 35 kilograms per year against 20 teaspoons a year, 10,000 years ago.
High fructose corn syrup15 is always found in very poor quality foods that are empty and filled with all kinds of other disease-promoting compounds, fats, salt, chemicals and even mercury.
(i) Dufault, R., LeBlanc, B., Schnoll, R. et al. 2009. Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: Measured concentrations in food product sugar. Environ Health. 26(8):2.
(ii) Bray, G.A., Nielsen, S.J., and B.M. Popkin. 2004. Consumption of high-fructose16 corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 79(4):537-43. Review.