Saturday, April 7, 2012

The big fat difference between HFCS and Sucrose.

Many claim high fructose corn syrup(HFCS) and table sugar(sucrose) are exactly the same.  HFCS intake has increased drastically in the past 40 years at the expense of other sweeteners. 

High-fructose corn syrup is produced by milling corn to produce corn starch, then processing that starch to yield corn syrup, which is almost entirely glucose, and then adding enzymes that change some of the glucose into fructose.

Whajudi analyzed samples of HFCS in 10 commercial beverages before and after hydrolyzing it in acid to break down the other carbohydrates present in it; they found that the carbohydrate content was 4-5 times higher than the listed values.(1

Many of the extra calories are in the form of maltodextrin, an oligosaccharide,  which is digested into glucose.  It is easy to think sugar causes obesity when your soda contains 4-5x the listed calories. 



  1. Hi,

    I posted this study at and this is what Evelyn responded:

    I've been looking into this some more. While I can't find anything definitive, I came up with a lot of info that bacterial metabolism of oligosaccharides is lower than claimed by those who advocate them as prebiotics. This tells me they are likely indeed essentially undigested by humans. If the difference were that substantial, I tend to think the HCFS v. sucrose studies would have shown *significant* differences.

    1. I posted this to carbsane before too and she gave me the same answer. Carbsane is thinking about oligosaccharides like raffinose and staffinose, the oligosaccharides in HFCS are mostly maltodextrin which is definitely broken down by humans.

      Check this out-
      "The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas."

  2. But I still don't quite understand the takeaway message. Eating lots of glucose will make you fat? There are lean people who eat lots of glucose-rich foods like rice and potatoes. If the idea is that HFCS consumers are consuming too many calories, how come the body doesn't naturally regulate itself, both by increasing carbohydrate oxidation and by down-regulating hunger?

    1. The take away message is that HFCS sweetened beverages are possibly x4-5 the calories of sucrose sweetened beverages.

      If your eating nothing but soda you most likely won't get fat, even if it's of the HFCS variety. The problem is when the calories are combined with excessive PUFA which forces a lot of the carbohydrates into storage.

    2. I came across this and like this explanation,

      Peat: "A study at UCLA that came out last summer analyzed [high fructose corn syrup]. They chemically tested it and found that it contained just the amount of fructose and glucose that it was claimed to have. [However, upon hydrolyzing it, they] found that it contained polysaccharides (starch-like material) containing 4 to 5 times the amount of calories that the original sugar had...These polysaccharides aren't easily digested by our human enzymes and are likely to feed bacteria lower in the intestine that produce fermentation products (including lactic acid), which are responsible for causing the intestine to increase its already great production of seratonin and to cause it to be absorbed into the circulation in quantities enough to affect behavior. Anxiety, for example, is increased in animals in proportion to the fermentation of these starch-like molecules. I suspect that the starchy materials in the corn sweetener are pretty directly related to increased exposure to seratonin."

    3. Makes sense, I suspected that was a possible scenario.

  3. I wonder if the corn derived fructose is made in a similar way using enzymes to convert glucose to fructose.