Fructose is a simple sugar that is found naturally in most fruits and vegetables. The amount of naturally occurring fructose found in whole foods is small, and because there is evidence showing that small amounts do not raise blood sugar levels significantly, it has long been considered a good sugar and a healthy substitute for refined sugar. Enter high fructose corn syrup. Since its introduction, the amount of HFCS consumed on a daily basis has skyrocketed, and with that, so has the fructose debate.
Ultimately, the debate boils down to a single simple question: Is fructose good for you? Because the main source in the modern diet now comes from corn syrup, this product tends to be at the center of most debates. High fructose corn syrup is a highly processed sugar that consists of both glucose and fructose. However, the amount of fructose in a single gram of corn syrup exceeds the amount found naturally in fresh fruits and vegetables.
For some, the issue is centered around processing. The argument is that because corn syrup does not exist in nature, it cannot be called a natural product, and therefore is not to be considered healthy. To support this argument, studies reveal that the process by which corn is turned into HFCS requires mercury. This process has led to trace amounts of mercury being found in HFCS, substantiating the claim that it is not a healthy sweetener. In addition, it is argued that high fructose consumption leads to high density belly fat which has been linked to many health and medical issues.
Advocates of HFCS claim that it causes no more unhealthy belly fat or obesity than other sweeteners, and that it contains no artificial ingredients. In fact, some studies show that the body breaks down glucose the same way it does fructose, and the two are equally safe. Instead of targeting fructose as the evil sweetener, some say, consumers should instead focus on reducing the amount of sugar in any form because it isn’t healthy for you no matter what form it comes in.