Dietary Sugars Stimulate Fatty Acid Synthesis In Adults, Journal of Nutrition, 2008
If you're skipping HFCS because you don't want the fructose, you may as well skip sugar, cane syrup, honey, maple syrup, and fruit syrups ... because they all deliver the same if not more of a fructose punch. (HFCS is derived from modified corn starch.)
The study above was very small - 4 men and 2 women. It found that beverages containing more fructose than glucose resulted in more fat production - both after the beverage was consumed (even though no fat was consumed), and again after a meal 4 hours later. That is, the liver manufactured more triglycerides when higher-fructose beverages were consumed, than when higher-glucose beverages were consumed, and there was a carry-over effect to subsequent meals. (However, higher-glucose beverages raised post-meal blood glucose and insulin more than higher-fructose beverages.)
There's something that stands out in this study for me - the amount of fructose in those beverages, and the implication that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is to blame.
There were three beverages tested. All contained 85 grams of sugar, as:
- 100% glucose
- 50% glucose and 50% fructose
- 25% glucose and 75% fructose
- 85g glucose and 0g fructose
- 42.5g glucose and 42.5g fructose
- 21g glucose and 64g fructose
- One cup chopped carrot contains 1g fructose (plus 2g wrapped up in sucrose)
- One cup cherry tomatoes contains 2g fructose
- One medium banana contains 6g fructose (plus 1.5g wrapped up in sucrose)
- One cup of blueberries contains 7g fructose
- One medium apple contains 9g fructose (plus 1g wrapped up in sucrose)
- One cup grapes contains 12g fructose
But are HFCS-sweetened foods much higher in fructose than foods sweetened with cane sugar?
By "wrapped up in sucrose" in the list above, I mean that common table sugar, also known as sucrose, is a disaccharide; it consists of two single sugars (monosaccharides) bound together, in this case, a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose. So -- table sugar contains fructose, in an amount not much different from high-fructose corn syrup, while honey and maple syrup provide even more fructose:
- One teaspoon of table sugar (sucrose: 50% glucose and 50% fructose) contains 4g sugar, about 2g glucose and 2g fructose.
- One tablespoon high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS: 45% glucose and 55% fructose) contains 5g sugar, about 2g glucose and 3g fructose.
- One tablespoon pure corn syrup (100% glucose) contains 5g sugar, hardly any fructose.
- One tablespoon honey contains 17g sugar, about 8g glucose and 9g fructose.
- One tablespoon maple syrup contains 12g sugar, about 6g fructose tied up in sucrose.
In my mind, it becomes unnatural when one consumes 40, 50, 60, or more grams of fructose in a few fell swoops, whether it be as sucrose, or as HFCS. Unfortunately, the amount of fructose tested in this study (42.5g and 64g) may be unnatural, but it is not uncommon:
- One medium (21 ounce) cola beverage, if it was sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, might contain about 26g glucose and 32g fructose (58g total sugars - about 15 teaspoons of sugar)
- One medium (21 ounce) cola beverage, if it was sweetened with table sugar, might contain about 29g glucose and 29g fructose (58g total sugars - about 12 tablespoons of HFCS).
Below is a nice graphic from the New York Times of the making of HFCS. Above is a photo of the final product.
Click for larger.