Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Sugar vs High Fructose Corn Syrup

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Have you noticed that many products on grocery shelves are bragging that they do not have high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)? HFCS has been demonized by many people in the public as well as the medical community in recent years. But how much different is it from just plain old sugar? The answer is up for debate, but I will do my best to present the facts.

HFCS has been used for many years, but the use really became much more common in the 1980's. Food companies use it because it makes a desirable end product and is fairly cheap. HFCS comes from corn and is refined to get the sweet taste into a syrup. But is it worse than sugar?

Many experts believe it is no different than sugar. Both are high in calories and are considered "empty" calories, meaning they don't have vitamins, minerals, or other healthy nutrients in significant quantities.

The American Medical Association and other scientists have agreed that both sugar and HFCS both contribute to risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses if eaten in large quantities. In other words, there is no proof to date that HFCS is more harmful than sugar.

So why are so many companies eliminating HFCS? It is all consumer perception. Consumers have heard that HFCS bad so companies are spending time and money eliminating it from it's products? What are they using instead? Sugar.

Is HFCS natural? The Corn Refiners Association says that HFCS is natural. The FDA does not define the term "natural" so we really have no way of seeing whether something is natural on a food label. Food companies can use this word without repercussion from the FDA since they have not defined it.

For more information on HFCS, check out www.sweetsurprise.com
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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