Many types of sugar are found in both natural foods and in processed foods. Two well-known sugars are fructose and high fructose corn syrup. Although they may sound alike, they are completely different forms of sugar and affect the body in different ways.
Fructose is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar. Commonly found in fruits and honey, it has earned the name "fruit sugar." In processed form, it can come in syrup or granulated crystals. It is highly water soluble and sweeter than other forms of sugar, like sucrose.
In addition to honey and fruits, fructose is found in sports drinks, cereals, pastas and even in some vegetables. Canned and dried fruits in particular have a high level of fructose.
Many products use fructose for its advantages. It is often added to certain drinks, particularly fruit juice drinks, because it is naturally sweeter than glucose. In addition, it is preferred as a sweetener by diabetics due to its slow absorption and slow and steady increase in the blood sugar level.
Fructose is processed in the liver. An abnormal amount of fructose in the liver will turn the fructose into fat, which is released into the bloodstream as triglycerides. A high level of triglycerides can ultimately lead to many heart diseases.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup Identification
High-fructose corn syrup (or HFCS) is made from corn. Corn starch is processed to yield a type of glucose, which is then processed with enzymes to reach a high percentage of fructose–producing a crystal clear syrup with a much-extended shelf life over sugar.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup Benefits
Most processed foods, including sodas and flavored juices, contain high-fructose corn syrup. However, certain foods like bread, cereal, yogurt and salad dressing, may also have HFCS added for flavor. It is also far cheaper to use HFCS than real sugar.
There are numerous arguments surrounding the supposed benefits of HFCS foods. Many believed HFCS foods were the leading cause of obesity; however, according to an interview with Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Department, in the New York Times, "There's no substantial evidence to support the idea that high-fructose corn syrup is somehow responsible for obesity."
High-Fructose Corn Syrup Effects
Though consuming HFCS foods may not be the sole cause of obesity--eating too many foods with HFCS can lead to obesity and many associated conditions such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. HFCS is high in calories and low in nutrition.