I've been saying for ages that the sugar composition of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is no different from that of table sugar (sucrose).
Oops. A new study in the journal Obesity actually measured the amounts and kinds of sugars in 23 kinds of HFCS-sweetened drinks.
The findings are summarized in a fact sheet:
The press release points out one other finding. You know how everyone thinks Mexican Coca-Cola is so much more delicious than American Coke because it is made with table sugar (sucrose), not HFCS? Oops again. The investigators could not find any sucrose in the Coke, but did find plenty of glucose and fructose. This suggests that Mexican Coke is also made with HFCS (or it could also mean that the sucrose had been split into its constituent glucose and fructose).
To review the biochemistry: sucrose is a double sugar of glucose and fructose bonded together. HFCS is glucose and fructose, separated. The sucrose bond is quickly split in the intestine and its glucose and fructose are the same as those in HFCS.
The metabolic problems that result from sugar intake are mostly due to the fructose content. Less is better for health. More is better for the soft drink industry, however. Fructose is sweeter than either glucose or sucrose, and sweet is what sells sodas.
At most, HFCS is supposed to be 55% fructose, as compared to the 50% in table sugar. Most foods and drinks are supposed to be using HFCS that is 42% fructose. A percentage of 55 is not much different biologically than 50, which is why the assumption has been that there is no biologically meaningful difference between HFCS and table sugar. This study, if confirmed, means that this supposition may need some rethinking.
The study names the beverages that contain 65% fructose: Coke, Pepsi, Sprite. It identifies Dr. Pepper, Gatorade, and Arizona Ice Tea as containing close to 60% fructose.
If, in fact, the percentage of fructose is higher than advertised, it's another good reason to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.
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