ANCHORAGE, Alaska—It's a debate that has been raging the last few years: sugar vs. corn syrup, or is it corn syrup vs. high-fructose corn syrup, or corn syrup vs. corn sugar? And don't forget about all those artificial sweeteners.
Confused? So was I.
Sometimes it can be tough to figure out what the difference is and why advertisers or the corn industry care so much.
I asked a local nutritionist to help sort out all the information and misinformation about sugar-- I mean, corn syrup.
You may have seen some ads recently about the bad press high-fructose corn syrup is getting. The Corn Refiners Association is behind these ads. It doesn't like the negative information being spread about high-fructose corn syrup.
The association is now calling high-fructose corn syrup “corn sugar.”
National talk shows have tackled the subject as well and a lot of people have begun reading labels more carefully.
“There is a whole group that feels high-fructose corn syrup causes negative health effects,” said Lauri Ek, a clinical nutrition manager at Providence Hospital.
So what's the truth?
Common sense says over-eating any kind of sugar is probably not good for you.
“There have been some studies that said there were problems and new evidence saying overall we need to look at the added sugar in our diets. So it’s not just corn syrup. It’s not just high-fructose corn syrup. It’s overall the increased amount of sugar we are eating, so whether it’s from honey or corn syrup, or high-fructose corn syrup or plain old sugar we still need to watch how much we eat,” said Ek.
Too much sugar can lead to weight problems and a lot more.
“The problem is you get dental cavities, you might get high triglycerides, which is excess sugars in the diet and those cause more heart disease and heart attacks in more women,” Ek said.
The corn syrup commercials do include some small print about overall good health.
Too bad it's so small, because Ek says that's really what this debate is all about, moderation, exercise and a balanced diet.
The Corn Refiners Association actually petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking that manufacturers have the option of using "corn sugar" as an alternate ingredient name for high-fructose corn syrup. They say it would more accurately describe the product.
There’s no word yet from the FDA.