Let’s talk about how high fructose corn syrup compares with sugar in terms of nutritional value and if it’s not a ginormous post already, I’ll also go into how the body metabolizes the two.
Nutritional value for 1tbsp of the following:
Interestingly, most of the pro-HFCS sites I’ve read state that HFCS-55% is as sweet as sucrose while HFCS-42% is less sweet than sucrose. And doing a cursory look on pubmed.gov didn’t seem to turn anything up.
The second table was made from data from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference found here: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/ and searching for “corn” which lead me to high fructose corn syrup and “Sucrose” which led me to granulated sugar. Please keep in mind, I could not find the differences in calories and carbohydrates between the two main types of HFCS. This is what the USDA had to offer data wise.
In my original calculations I treated carbs and sugars separately. This gave me astonishingly wild numbers and thanks to the Savage Circuits crowd and especially @RoyEltham, the new interpretation is “of the 14.44g carbs in HFCS, 5.01g are sugars”, for example).
Some basic definitions:
Calories: The highly useless answer is that nutritional calories are really scientific kilocalories which means: The energy needed to increase the temperature of 1kg of water by 1°C. This is exactly 1000 small calories or about 4.2 kilojoules. So if you had a 100 calories snackpack, that’s scientifically 100,000 calories that you’re ingesting. And the sentence would read: “The energy needed to increase the temperature of 100kg of water by 1°C. This is exactly 100,000 small calories or about 420kilojoules.”
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates consist of simple and complex sugars and starches. Simple sugars such as those found in fruits and processed foods are digested more easily and complex sugars are those found in vegetables and whole grain products where the processing hasn’t stripped away nutrients yet. Complex sugars take longer to digest but are more packed with nutrition.
Sugars: These are a subset of carbohydrates and refer mostly to the simple sugars that are mono or disaccharides such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
So let’s apply this.
Say a product has 66g of “Sugars” and we’ll be fair, 50% HFCS and 50% Sucrose. This would mean that it had (33/14.44) 2.29tbsp HFCS and (33/12.57) 2.63tbsp Sucrose. And therefore 121.37 calories from HCFS and 126.24 calories from sugar. A 20fl oz bottle of Coke claims to have 240 calories with its 65 g of Sugars.
Suggested sugar intake per day = 33g/day for 2000 calorie diet.
In terms of basic metabolism:
Sucrose is a disaccharide (two sugars in one - fructose and glucose) which stays pretty well put together until the small intestines. Sucrase, an enzyme, splits sucrose into fructose and glucose. These then go through their own protein channels from the intestines into the surrounding cells, and from there they make their way into the bloodstream. They are both then directed towards the liver.
- Glucose in the blood and higher glucose levels in the liver stimulate pancreatic cells to produce insulin. Insulin stimulates a number of things: 1) The transport of glucose from the blood into tissue cells where it can be used as energy. 2) Stimulates the muscles and liver to store glucose as glycogen which can be used when the body needs a burst of energy (it just reverts back into usable glucose. 3) Any leftover glycogen that isn’t stored in liver and muscle cells is stored as fat. 4) An appetite suppressant, leptin, is also called to action to let the person know to stop eating!
- Fructose, however, does not raise blood sugar so as to stimulate pancreatic cells to produce insulin (if my reading around is correct). Doctors have suggested that diabetics switch to fructose consumption due to this lack of blood sugar spiking.
- Once in the liver, fructose gets processed and as a result two separate components DHAP and Glyceraldehyde are formed both of which are precursors to glycogen and triglyceride formation. Elevated levels of DHAP and Glyceraldehyde drive metabolic pathways toward glucose and subsequent glycogen synthesis. It seems that fructose is a better substrate for glycogen synthesis than glucose and that glycogen replenishment takes precedence over triglyceride formation. But if there’s enough glycogen already, then the excess DHAP and Glyceraldehyde will lean towards becoming fatty acids.
Metabolic diagram below:
Random issue: Usually there are no problems with having enough of the enzyme sucrase to chomp away at sucrose. But if there’s inflammation or intestinal infection, there may be a temporary loss of cells that produce sucrase. The undigested sugars then provide a lovely breeding ground for bacteria whose waste products lead to gas/diarrhea, pain. And sometimes, children who eat way too much sugary stuff end up getting stomachaches as a result of bacterial gas formation. Heh bacterial farts.
High Fructose Corn Syrup on the other hand is not a disaccharide when it goes into your body. It’s processed from the get-go as two separate sugars - fructose and glucose. There aren’t really any scientific studies to “prove” this or “disprove” it because it’s just a mass of these sugars in different ratios derived from corn. With too much consumption of fructose, there may not be enough transporters and the fructose ends up going to the large intestines where they become nutrition for bacteria —> more bacterial farts —> gas and bloating for you. Check the fructose metabolism portion of sucrose to see how fructose gets metabolized.
I’ll go into the studies involving higher fructose diets and such in the next tumblr post, but I wanted to present first why fructose would make such a splash. That it’s a naturally occurring form of sugar (fruits and such) doesn’t make this dangerous. It’s the sheer amount we now consume.
Table’s based on information from the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Pretty sharp rise from 1970…Based on this graphic, we went from taking 80 to 100lbs of sugar a year per person from 1970 to 2006.
So thus far, the answer is that on the molecular level, there’s not all that much difference between HFCS and Sugar besides the bond between fructose and glucose for sugar as well as the fructose/glucose ratios. However sodas/pops most likely have higher amounts of HFCS, and our bodies are probably getting way more fructose and sugar than they ought to.