Filed Under: Big Fat Lies Food Scares

A Highly Processed Myth

We spread the word yesterday about our launch of a new million-dollar ad campaign to take on misinformation about the much-maligned high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or corn sugar. Today, we’re telling readers of several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Palm Beach Post, that sugar is sugar, whether it’s corn sugar, cane sugar, or honey. As we explained to a Times columnist:

Consumers have been duped. High-fructose corn syrup is a product that has been bizarrely maligned by what amounts to an urban myth.
We recognize that both high-fructose corn syrup and sugar have calories, and eating calories will cause you to put on weight. But the obesity epidemic is more complicated than singling out individual ingredients….You’ve got to give people some credit. They should be free to choose.

Apparently, not everyone is appreciative of our efforts to dispel corn sugar myths. A representative of a sugar trade group told the Times that it’s “false and misleading” to suggest that corn sugar and table sugar are nutritionally the same.
This statement is easily blown apart by a simple key fact: All dietary sugars have the same amount of calories, whether it’s corn sugar, cane sugar, or table sugar. Even nutrition zealot Marion Nestle says “the body really can’t tell them apart.”
The sugar rep continued his ploy by calling corn sugar a “highly processed” sugar while saying that other sugars exist “naturally.” But sugar cubes don’t grow on trees. There’s a world of processing required to turn a beet growing in the ground, or a sugar cane stalk, into the granulated sugar that you put in coffee.
Just how processed are common sugars? We outline, step by step, the processes for making beet sugar, cane sugar, HFCS, and fruit juice concentrate. Take a look and judge for yourself which sugar is the most highly processed. You might be surprised.
As for “all natural” sugar, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rock candy.

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