Monday, October 4, 2010

Corn Sugar vs. Table Sugar- Facts or [Science] Fiction?

As a mom, finding healthy foods to feed my kids that are both nutritious and filling are at the top of my list. I have to admit, that we do find ourselves in the "pre-packaged snack" aisle.. You know, the one that has way too much sugar and artificial ingredients.

At the hype of all of the artificial ingredient controversy is High Fructose Corn Syrup (also referred to as HFCS or it's new name, Corn Sugar). Recently, I was asked to participate in an educational webinar from the Corn Refiners Association through Mom Central. With tons of pros and cons floating through the world wide web, and tons of mixed opinions all over the blogosphere and mommy-message boards, I figured a little insight on the topic wouldn't hurt.

While preparing for the webinar, I was asked to look through my cabinets for items which contained HFCS. I honestly don't buy a lot of products that have HFCS, except for jarred tomato sauce, and take pride that I check the labels for everything. I thought I knew that HFCS was "bad for you", and "made you want to eat more", and that "my body processed it slower, thus inhibiting my goals of weight loss". (Picture over-exaggerated bunny ears at all of the quotation marks prior to this.)

While at the webinar, I learned many things about Corn Sugar, and here are my top 3 myths about HFCS- and the truth behind it:

High Fructose Corn Syrup is unnatural.

HFCS fructose/glucose ratio is equal to many nutritious foods. 
According to the information provided by Dr. John White, President of White Technical Research, consumers don't realize that HFCS is almost half fructose and half glucose, and basically the same ratio that is found in grape juice concentrate and honey. In fact, Corn Sugar is even more balanced than agave nectar, and the ratios of fructose to glucose that is found in HFCS are found in many healthy food choices- none of which are linked to the heart disease or obesity epidemics.

He concluded that much of the scientific perspective has been lost in the debate, most sugars we consume are a mix fructose & glucose, and that there is no evidence that one specific sugar is uniquely responsible for obesity. Dr. White also encouraged attendees to take a look at the quantity that Americans consume in retrospect to 35 years ago, and that sugar- along with everything- can be a part of a healthy diet when used in moderation.

HFCS is worse for your body than regular sugar, and your body digests it differently. 

Dr. James M. Rippe, (Professor of Biomedical Sciences University of Central Florida and Founder and Director Rippe Lifestyle Institute), took the time to break down the molecular structure of Sucrose (regular sugar) and HFCS. During his presentation he explained that once sucrose and HFCS are absorbed into the bloodstream, they deliver the same sugars at the same ratios, to the same tissues, within the same timeframe, to the same metabolic pathways. He concluded that "Sucrose and High Fructose Corn Syrup are the same from a metabolic and nutritional point of view, [that] there are no differences or abnormalities in any parameter yet measured in humans, and [that as a consumer we] should not confuse High Fructose Corn Syrup with pure fructose (The proper comparison is between HFCS and Sucrose.) Even the ADA (American Dietetic Association) recognizes that "both sweeteners contain the same numbers of calories- 4 per gram- and consist of equal parts of fructose and glucose. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”  Unfortunately, because of the 'bad rap' that HFCS has received, many of the general public are confused, and scared.

When dieting, consuming foods with HFCS will be destructive, and add more time on the treadmill. 
I have one heck of a sweet tooth.. unfortunately, most women I know have the same "worst enemy". Speaking with Kristine Clark, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.C.S.M. Director of Sports Nutrition at Penn State University, put a lot of woes and misconceptions to rest. Dr. Clark spoke about the importance of balancing foods from all 5 food groups, and knowing the difference between added sugars and naturally forming sugars. She also touched on the fact that many dieters stress about exceeding their daily recommended allowance of added sugars when consuming foods that contain HFCS. Her graph showing the exorbitant amounts of food that would need to be consumed to exceed it, really helped shed some light on the topic. Dr. Clark also recommended being wise, and balancing portion control. She also concluded that the body receives sucrose and Corn Sugar the same way, processes them the same way, and that in moderation, they can be a part of a healthy diet.

So, I have the copy of the PDF from the presentation, and many of our questions that were answered, and would love some feedback from you. I know this is a sensitive topic, and many of you may share some strong opinions. I would love to hear your feedback, and share with you all any more information that I can. I may be writing another blog post about this in the near future, depending on the responses I get back from you, my readers.

Also, if you have any questions, want more information or would like to contact the Corn Refiners Association, please visit, visit them on Twitter @SweetFacts or check out their blog at

"I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of the Corn Refiners Association. I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate."


kaboogie October 05, 2010  

My biggest question is, are these people talking about corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup. I am also eager to hear any rebuttal, or contrary evidence, since now I am even more confused than I was before LOL.

Lauren @4BabyAndMom October 05, 2010  

Corn syrup is COMPLETELY different than high fructose corn syrup.

What the topic is is "High Fructose Corn Syrup" or soon-to-be-called "Corn Sugar", (because the Corn Refiners Association thinks that's less confusing.)

Melissa October 06, 2010  

I still think it's nasty, and will do my best to eliminate it from our household.
I personally don't think this was a unbiased webinar and you were presented with only one side. If it was brought to you by an independent unbiased company/lab, I'd have an easier time with the topic you have presented.
But thanks for presenting the CRA's side of the story. It's interesting.

Anonymous,  March 10, 2011  

what is the equivalent if I want to substitute corn sugar for table sugar?


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