Fructose vs. Sucrose: Is there a difference between “Corn Sugar” and “Real Sugar”?

So we’ve all seen those commercials where someone is panicking about death and dying because their loved one is trying to feed them a popsicle laced with… high fructose corn syrup *dun dun dun.*  Their loved one then begins to tell them how corn sugar is the same as any other sugar blah, blah, blah.

Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely accurate in one way or the other.   As you will recall from the blog on carbohydrates, not all sugars are created equal.  The same is true with high fructose corn syrup and sugar (sucrose).  The main difference is how the body metabolizes fructose and sucrose.  Sucrose that we as our every day kitchen sugar is the most readily available form of energy.  The body will use it the minute it hits blood stream.  In fact, the moment that sucrose hits the tongue it is broken down into glucose for the body to use immediately.  This is why we use sucrose in diabetics to revive them during low blood sugar.  It is not only found in candy, but also in breads and fruits.

Fructose is also found in fruits, but not in such high concentrations as in soda and as a sweetening additive in so many other processed foods.  This additive that we know as “high fructose corn syrup” cannot be broken down into glucose like sucrose can.  Its simply a matter of breaking sucrose into its parts, glucose and fructose.  Since fructose is not concentrated the quantities of each, in moderation don’t cause as much of a problem.  Fructose, especially the concentrated sort, can be very dangerous in the doses that we consume it here in the United States.  Fructose must first be metabolized into fat before it can be transformed into glucose.  This is why people tell you that drinking soda is literally pouring on the pounds.  High fructose corn syrup is usually the first ingredient in soda and is often found in processed breads and sweets so instead of getting a little fructose from adding a cup of sugar to an ENTIRE batch of cookies we are drinking or eating a massive quantity of fructose from our processed foods.

How much sugar equivalents high fructose corn syrup adds! Remember what I said about concentration and quantitiy?

I want something to be noticed in what I just said.  Fructose, sucrose, and glucose are all apart of normal every day foods, but it is the quantity that makes it dangerous.  It is the quantity of everything we eat that has lead us to be a more unhealthy nation.  I’m going to say it again: “Everything in moderation!”  So go and have that popsicle on a hot day!  Have a root beer float for dessert or a ginger ale when your stomach hurts, but don’t chug down one soda after another and don’t make a habit of eating processed food every time you want a treat.  Treat yourself with some strawberries or a home made cookie.  Stay active and you can always enjoy life and your favorite treats, but do it all in moderation.

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