Corn Syrup vs. Table Sugar: Which Is Worse?

University of Utah researchers have declared a winner in the corn syrup vs. table sugar debate. They found that corn syrup is significantly more toxic than refined sugar. Americans, who consume 34% more added high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) compared to other nationalities, should pay close attention. A diet high in HFCS causes insulin resistance, which progresses into chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. The study’s lead author, Wayne Potts, said in a University of Utah press release: “this is the most robust study showing there is a difference between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar at human-relevant doses.”

corn syrupHFCS Lowers Reproductive Rates and Raises Mortality Rates

Researchers fed one group of female mice a diet made up of 25% calories from added fructose and glucose (components of corn syrup), and another group of mice a diet containing 25% of calories from sucrose (common table sugar). The mice fed a fructose-glucose diet died at a rate 1.87 times higher than the mice fed a sucrose diet. The fructose-glucose diet also affected rates of reproduction. Female mice had 24.6% fewer offspring than the mice who ate table sugar. This study suggests that humans may likewise be negatively affected by high HFCS consumption.

Processed Foods and HFCS

University of Utah researchers noted that 42% of added sugar in the American diet consists of HFCS, whereas HFCS accounts for only 8% of added sugar worldwide. The typical American diet dishes out 44% added sugar as sucrose and the remaining 14% of added sugar as natural sweeteners such as honey and fruit.

Part of the reason the American diet is so HFCS-rich is due to high consumption of processed foods, virtually all of which contain corn syrup! In fact, just one serving of a processed food item may exceed your sugar threshold for the day. HFCS manufacturers claim that corn syrup contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose (compared to table sugar’s 50/50 fructose-glucose split). Studies have shown, however, that these estimates are skewed low. For instance, University of Southern California researchers found that popular soda brands—including Coke, Pepsi, and Sprite—actually contained up to 65% HFCS!

Cutting sugar on all counts, both table sugar and corn syrup, is a healthy choice, but if ever you are faced with corn syrup vs. table sugar, then refined sugar appears to be the lesser of the evils. Now, if we can lean added sugar consumption toward natural sweeteners such as honey…even better!