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Weighing the sweeteners – baltimoresun.com

Is sugar the same as high fructose corn syrup? Your body doesn't think so. Baltimore Sun Photo / July 19, 2007

About every week or two, we get an unwelcome free newspaper dropped on our front lawn. The SunPlus is nothing more than several pages of ads bracketed by one or two articles of general interest. Recently, though, I hesitated before throwing this one in the recycling.

There on the cover was an article weighing the pros and cons of beverages sweetened by high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) versus regular sugar. It’s no secret that the rise in childhood obesity (and for that matter, adult obesity) in America mirrors the rise in use of HFCS in popular beverages and other foods.

This article makes the argument that BOTH sugar and HFCS are bad for you, and the real reason for the rise in obesity has more to do with supersizing drinks and other foods. It is true that over the last four decades America has been eating larger portions and drinking more and more calories in a single serving, but it’s not that simple.

The Corn industry and others defending HFCS will tell you that “sweet is sweet” and that HFCS is basically the same as sugar – same calories, etc. That’s true… and not true. The body metabolizes HFCS differently than sugar. In a way, sugar and HFCS are like oil and gasoline. Oil burns, but it takes a little effort to get it going, and it burns more slowly and longer. Gasoline is a highly-refined oil product. It combusts more than it burns, and it’s all used up in that one explosive moment. It’s the reason why oil is used to heat homes instead of gas.

We all know that the body metabolizes sugar into energy, and whatever energy is not used is stored as fat. HFCS, on the other hand, is like gasoline – a highly-refined sugar. So highly refined that, even in small quantities, there’s likely more caloric energy than we can use up, so unless you’re running a marathon, you’re not going to benefit from all the energy in that Big Gulp. Instead, it’s going to explode inside you (in more ways than one).

Your body treats HFCS differently. It forces the liver to kick out more fat into the bloodstream. It’s made using at least one genetically-modified enzyme. A study also pointed to HFCS producing “significantly higher fasting plasma triacylglycerol values than glucose” (these are substances known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease).

Bottom line, you should find out how much sweetener (sugar or HFCS) your body can tolerate, and work hard to keep below that level. Here’s a tip: If you opt for water instead of a soda, you’ve conquered half the battle.

Weighing the sweeteners – baltimoresun.com.

Wed, April 21 2010 » Healthy Schools, Reversing Childhood Obsesity

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