Corn Syrup vs. Sugar: Which is sweeter for your diet?


In an article published Friday in the New York Times, Kim Severson reports on how food manufacturers are moving away from using low-priced but high calorie corn syrup to sugar. The reason: customer perception. What, did you expect health and nutrition?New products from Pizza Hut, Pepsi and Healthy Choice all tout their sugar, not corn syrup bona fides. Corn syrup, as you may know, has been under assault over the past few years for its supposed link to obesity, but sugar has been left alone to rot our teeth. Even the first lady has weighed in saying that her daughters don't get to taste the sweet syrup.

But like most things that are heavily marketed and little thought through, perception trumps reality. According to the Times' piece, there are no studies saying that corn syrup is any less or more healthy than sugar. Any swap in our processed foods can likely be attributed not to the food industry's concern over rising obesity rates, but to catering to the public's growing distaste for corn syrup.

The turnaround comes after three decades during which high-fructose corn syrup had been gaining on sugar in the American diet. Consumption of the two finally drew even in 2003, according to the Department of Agriculture. Recently, though, the trend has reversed. Per capita, American adults ate about 44 pounds of sugar in 2007, compared with about 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup.

"Sugar was the old devil, and high-fructose corn syrup is the new devil," said Marcia Mogelonsky, a senior analyst at Mintel International, a market-research company.

With sugar sales up, the Sugar Association last year ended its Sweet by Nature campaign, which pointed out that sugar is found in fruits and vegetables, said Andy Briscoe, president of the association. "Obviously, demand is moving in the right direction so we are taking a break," Mr. Briscoe said.

Of course, both can be avoided by preparing your own meals from scratch with healthy whole foods, without the use of sugar or corn syrup. Bon Appétit.

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