corn sugar

  1. High-fructose corn syrup is worse than sugar

    Whatever they call it, HFCS is still bad for you

    For once, common sense has prevailed at the FDA as the agency rejected a cynical attempt to hide one of the most dangerous additives in the modern diet.

    High-fructose corn syrup is the one sweetener that's actually worse for you than sugar. As people catch on, they're looking to avoid it -- and that's why the corn industry is trying to hide it by changing the name to "corn sugar."

    But the feds stepped in and nixed the plan -- and for good reason: Despite the industry's claim that this stuff is "nearly identical" to sugar, it's clearly not.

    And while sugar itself is pretty dangerous, there's a growing body of evidence that proves this stuff is even worse. Just take a look:

    Obesity: If you want to know why HFCS is not "nearly identical" to sugar, just take a look at how it behaves inside the body.

    In 2008, for example, Texas researchers found that HFCS is converted into fat faster than regular sugar in the human body. And in a 2010 study, Princeton researchers found that rats fed HFCS gained more weight than those given regular sugar -- even when their total calories were the same.

    In humans... well, you don't have to look very far to see the effect it has on us.

    Kidney disease: There have also been consistent links between HFCS and kidney stones and other kidney problems. In a 2008 study, for example, researchers found that people who drank two sodas a day -- the main source of HFCS for many people -- had a 40 percent higher risk of kidney damage.

    Fatty liver disease: Fructose is converted into fat in the liver, so it's not at all surprising to see studies linking HFCS consumption to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. A 2008 study on soft drink consumption found not only a link between HFCS and liver disease, but that higher levels of consumption even caused scarring in the liver.

    As the name implies, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver -- and it can lead to serious liver damage and even liver failure.

    But like I said, plain old sugar isn't exactly health food either, and manufacturers are playing name games here as well. The yogurt company Chobani is in hot water for listing sugar as "evaporated cane juice" on the label.

    Don't pick one over the other. Go sugar-free instead -- and when you need a sweetener, reach for something natural and calorie-free such as stevia or lo han.

  2. Playing the name game over sugar

    It's like a battle between two horror movie monsters: In one corner, you've got the corn industry responsible for high-fructose corn syrup as well as all the other corn-based additives used in everything from food to fuel.

    They've been trying to change the name of HFCS to "corn sugar," launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign and lobbying the FDA to allow them to use the name in both marketing and ingredients labels.

    In the other corner, you've got the "real" sugar industry -- and they've just filed a lawsuit to block the ads, supposedly in the name of consumer protection. The name "corn sugar," they say, is just too confusing. People might think they're getting "real" sugar when they're really just getting HFCS.

    It's enough to make your head spin, especially since this is a game about semantics and marketing -- not health. The "real" sugar industry has lost plenty of business to the HFCS people over the years, and they'll be damned if they're going to let the corn people take the "sugar" name, too.

    So they've tried to position themselves as the good guys here. And amazingly, we've fallen for it -- hook, line and sweetener: Foods now wear a "MADE WITH REAL SUGAR!" label like a badge of honor.

    Some people even think they can taste the difference -- although a recent taste test proves otherwise. People were asked to try either regular HFCS-sweetened Coca-Cola or the increasingly trendy "Mexican Coke" made with real sugar -- and they picked the HFCS stuff by a 7-to-1 margin.

    But at the end of the day, your body doesn't care much whether the sugar comes from corn, cane or beets. Sugar is sugar -- and it's all bad for you.

    Sure, some studies have found that HFCS might be a little worse for you than real sugar -- but does it matter? One will cause obesity... the other will cause obesity, too, maybe just a little faster.

    The bottom line on this is that any product with added sugar -- no matter what they call it -- shouldn't be on the menu. Let the only sugars you get be the truly natural kind: The sugar you'll find in a piece of fruit.

  3. Garbage by any other name

    In a high-stakes game of switcheroo, the industry responsible for high-fructose corn syrup has asked the FDA for approval to use the name "corn sugar" instead.

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