Any added sugar is bad sugar, some experts contend

Any added sugar is bad sugar, some experts contend
They see table sugar, honey as unhealthy as high-fructose corn syrup.

(HealthDay)—High-fructose corn syrup has long been portrayed as a major villain in the American diet. But a new school of thought contends that plain old table sugar or even all-natural honey can be just as harmful to a person's health.

Any source of excess contributes to obesity and diabetes, and singling out might distract consumers from the real health hazards posed by any and all added sugars, many dietitians now say.

For example, people swigging all-natural sodas sweetened with pure cane sugar are still doing themselves harm, just as if the sodas had been loaded instead with high- corn syrup, said Mario Kratz, a research associate professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health in Seattle.

"The science is pretty clear that normal household sugar doesn't differ from high-fructose corn syrup," said Kratz, who specializes in nutrition and metabolism. "They are equally bad when consumed in sugar-sweetened beverages."

Some researchers, such as Shreela Sharma, maintain that high-fructose corn syrup poses a unique health threat. They are concerned that the may process high-fructose corn syrup differently than regular sugar, in a way that contributes to obesity and its attendant problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

"In the end, sugar is sugar when it comes to calories, but it's not the same when your body is metabolizing these different sugars," said Sharma, a registered dietitian and associate professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. "To me, these small differences ultimately do end up making a big difference."

But such views are now being challenged by other researchers and nutritionists who say that all sugars used in food are pretty much the same.

High-fructose corn syrup is nearly identical in its simple sugar composition to both sugar and honey, said Jennifer Temple, an associate professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the University at Buffalo in New York.

"In my opinion, there is no real difference between sugar and high-fructose corn syrup," Temple said. "High-fructose corn syrup is more processed, but most of the sugar we use has also been refined and processed."

What's more, science hasn't been able to demonstrate that high-fructose corn syrup affects the human body differently than any other source of added sugar, said Claudia Perkins, a registered dietitian with the Texas A&M Health Science Center Diabetes Education Program.

"There is not enough scientific evidence to say that high-fructose corn syrup is the cause for a boost in appetite or an increase in body fat, or if it is metabolized differently than other sweeteners," Perkins said.

High-fructose corn syrup is made from corn that has been processed first into corn starch and then into pure corn syrup.

But pure corn syrup is composed completely of the simple sugar glucose, which is not sweet enough for use in food manufacturing. Food producers add enzymes to the corn syrup to convert about half of the glucose into fructose, another simple sugar that is much sweeter.

All sources of dietary sugar contain a mix of glucose and fructose. Both table sugar and honey contain 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose, while high-fructose corn syrup is usually 45 percent glucose and 55 percent fructose, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The body does process pure fructose and pure glucose in different ways, and studies on both humans and animals have shown that pure fructose can negatively influence a person's health and appetite. People eating pure fructose are less likely to feel full and more likely to overeat, which can lead to obesity and diabetes.

Virtually every cell in the body can process glucose as an energy source, but the cells require the hormone insulin to be able to absorb glucose and unleash its stored energy. That same insulin also serves as a signal to the brain that you've eaten enough, said Dr. Kathleen Page, an expert on diabetes and obesity and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.

On the other hand, fructose can only be processed in the liver and doesn't send that insulin-generated signal to the brain that one is full.

A study that Page recently conducted found that people who drank beverages sweetened with pure fructose tended to exhibit greater hunger than those who drank beverages with pure glucose. Her findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We found that when the participants consumed the fructose drink, they had greater activity in brain reward areas, they reported greater hunger and desire for food items, and they were more willing to give up long-term money rewards to receive short-term food rewards," Page said.

But the problem with this study, and other studies like it, is that they fed people pure glucose and pure fructose—something that never happens in real life, said Lisa Cimperman, a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

"It's not applicable to the way we eat. All foods are a mixture of fructose and glucose," Cimperman said. "When you look at the metabolic effects of fructose and glucose in isolation, you are not approximating the way we eat in real life."

Very few studies have been conducted that compare sugar sources head-to-head, such as comparing high-fructose corn syrup against table sugar in a person's daily diet, said Dr. Kylie Kavanagh, an assistant professor of pathology and comparative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. Most of the handful out there have been funded by the corn industry, which casts a shadow over their mostly positive findings, she contends.

Kavanagh said she's firmly in the camp that believes the source of sugar does matter, and that high-fructose corn syrup is worse than table sugar.

That's because the glucose and fructose contained in high-fructose corn syrup aren't chemically bonded, while the two are joined by a chemical bond in .

"That means they are much more easily absorbed when delivered in industrial high-fructose corn syrup," Kavanagh said. "The fructose is floating free."

Kavanagh and Sharma also believe that the slight differences in fructose and glucose composition between high-fructose corn syrup and sugar do, in fact, matter.

"Of course these differences add up, because they are all foods you are putting into your body," said the University of Texas' Sharma. She and Kavanagh believe that the variations between the two sweeteners in glucose and fructose content will cause the body to process them in different ways that will compound over time, promoting overeating and—eventually—obesity.

Other diet experts disagree, saying that the human body responds pretty much the same way to both high-fructose corn syrup and sugar. "It appears from the data that the 5 percent difference in high-fructose corn syrup is not enough to result in a physiological difference," the University at Buffalo's Temple said.

Temple believes that high-fructose corn syrup's ill effects on the American diet stem more from economics than biology.

"High-fructose corn syrup is cheaper to make and cheaper to use, so food companies can use it to sweeten their products and sell them to you for less money than they could if they were using sugar," she said. "High-fructose is in everything, even things you wouldn't think of, like bread and crackers and yogurt."

But that doesn't mean people do themselves any favors buying a cereal heavily laced with organic sugar at a health food store, all of the experts agreed.

"I would tell anyone wanting to buy an organic cereal that contains raw sugar or cane sugar, it doesn't matter," Sharma said. "Given the amount of sugar we're consuming in this day and age, the form you're getting it in does not matter."

All nutritionists agree on one point—people need to limit their consumption of any sugary sweetener if they want to stay fit and healthy.

"The practical point is you don't need any added sugar in your diet to have a healthy diet," Page said.

Explore further

Video: What's the difference between sugar and high-fructose corn syrup?

More information: For more on high-fructose corn syrup, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Jun 20, 2015
Mentioning honey as evil while trashing various processed sugars is like throwing out the baby with the bath water. Possibly some cheaper brands of honey have been unnecessarily laced with additives by some processors but there are many studies that suggest that there are benefits to honey as its contents are digested differently from the other mentioned sweeteners.
Manuka honey from New Zealand is highly praised as a desirable type as the bees that make it use nectar from the manuka plant.

Jun 20, 2015
There is a definite difference between HFCS and sucrose in metabolism.

I've done a bit of homebrewing, where using plain glucose is preferred over sucrose because it's more efficient and doesn't tend to leave a cidery taste to beer when used in larger amounts. When plain sugar is used, it's sometimes "inverted", or catalyzed into simple sugars, glucose and fructose, by means of boiling it with a bit of acid. That way the yeast doesn't spend energy splitting the sucrose molecule and the fermentation proceeds faster and cleaner with less byproducts.

Inverted sugar is practically identical to HFCS, and it is easier for the yeast to metabolize. I would not expect people to be different in that respect.

On the other hand, adding regular sugar to soda, which is acidic, undergoes the same reaction as it sits on the shelf and the sugar is inverted in the bottle in any case, so as far as soda goes, there is no difference between the two.

Jun 20, 2015
Whenever you add acid to table sugar, like in making sweetened lemon juice, it tastes different freshly squeezed than after sitting overnight.

That's because the sugar gets inverted. The bitterness of the lemon becomes blunted as the aromatic oils evaporate and some of the acidity is lost in the reaction, and the sugar becomes sweeter and sort of slippery on the tongue, like jam or marmelade.


Jun 20, 2015
High fructose corn syrup is the worst of all, for one, well, two combined simple reason(s).

One: It comes from GMO corn, which means the built in pesticidal aspects are concentrated in the corn syrup,

And two: The roundup pesticide, from the same company, is also concentrated in the corn syrup.

Thus, the toxic load that is placed in the body, is huge.

Cane sugar from anywhere else in the world, is ~~incalculably~~ less toxic, as it is not a concentration of Bt toxin and roundup. Both which are very damaging to humans.

Odd, isn't it... how the average report tends to miss these all critical aspects.

It's not just the corn syrup, but who made it and what's in it.

In this case, it is is somewhere near a 100% chance that it is Monsanto's GMO concentrated Bt toxin, and concentrated Roundup.

The level of slow death and general debilitation, via this 'method', which is injected into the USA population, is, well... see for yourself.

Jun 20, 2015
"HFCS is a ubiquitous sweetener in America because it's so cheap here compared to sugar. The government placed production quotas on domestic sugar and an import tariff on foreign sugar in 1977, but it subsidizes corn production by paying growers. Consequently, the U.S. and Canadian prices of sugar are twice the global price, while corn syrup is cheap."

"...Sugar cane was traditionally grown in equatorial regions, some known equally well for both political and climatic instability. The availability and price of sugar fluctuated wildly in response to upsets in either one."


Jun 20, 2015
From food chemistry perspective. Humans as primates haven't adapted to sugars as a primary food, for millennia our primary carbohydrates source is starch which is a polymer of sugars

Thus, our food chem extractive proclivity is to cleave starch to get glucose along with byproducts useful for subsequent biochem pathways ie. Sidestepping that (incl Honey) means many biochem paths are circumvented & one might argue they become flaccid

Euphemistically like encouraging biochemical laziness.

Couple the paradigm with evidence sugars Eg fructose, depending on dose, re the brain
1.Trigger same receptors as does cocaine
2.Deplete several metals & their metaloid enzymes Eg copper, which is shown deficiency results in some receptors becoming overstimulated & failing

more l8ter

Jun 20, 2015
mgdanimals4 claims
Then i discovered the diabetes destroyer (here's a review of the book: ) that aided me in flat out curing my diabetes. I dropped 30 pounds and I've been taken off metformin since, and I won't ever have to resort to insulin
Prove it !

You come across as an ordinary uneducated snake oil seller obfuscating/sidestepping Science !

Diabetes & elsewhere you claim a heart cure, claims don't cut it, they fell away into the dustbin of so many unconfirmable idle ideas for the intellectually feeble with; zoraster, moses, jesus, mohammed, joseph smith, jones, hubbard etc

Are there ANY trials, any Double Blind, any biochem analyses, anything at all !

Tell us why you should NOT be reported for spamming a Science site without incl evidence/reports ?

Jun 20, 2015
This isn't science. This is opinion. It is "one school of thought" and "some experts". Let's stick to science. This is all too broad a brush as well.

Jun 21, 2015
Sorry guys..the problem is that most people aren't genetically fit for high sugar diets..Just like 20,000 years ago when most people weren't fit for milk diets

I dont have any of those problems despite very high sugar intake (I don't eat corn syrup due to tummy aches its gives me)

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