Glucose-fructose syrup VS table sugar. Part II

The issues connected with the influence of consuming glucose-fructose syrup on health and body mass and composition raise a lot of emotions. It even gets more interesting, when HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is presented as worse and more harmful than the popular table sugar. This article is a continuation of the deliberation concerning the differences in the influence of products sweetened with saccharose or glucose-fructose syrup on human body.

You should definitely read:

Honey as a replacement of sugar

Glucose-fructose syrup VS table sugar. Part I

Saccharose and HFCS in research

Of course, I'm far from defending any of the components mentioned in this article. However, I would like to present this topic with proper gravity and on the basis of scientific studies. After quite thorough theoretical introduction placed in the previous part of this article, it's time for facts, i.e. experimental data, of which there's quite a lot.

Intriguing experiment

I suppose, one of the most interesting experiments is that, in which the authors decided to compare the influence of four isoenergy diets on the tempo of body mass loss. In those diets the significant supply of energy comes from saccharose or glucose-fructose syrup.

And so, the volunteers were assigned to one of the following protocols:

  • diet with the negative energy balance (-500kcal), where 10% of energy came from HFCS,

  • diet with the negative energy balance (-500kcal), where 10% of energy came from saccharose,

  • diet with the negative energy balance (-500kcal), where 12% of energy came from HFCS,

  • diet with the negative energy balance (-500kcal), where 12% of energy came from saccharose.

It's worth adding, that in all diets the participation of energy from particular macro nutrients was similar and included:

  • 50% - 55% of carbohydrates,

  • 15% - 20% of protein,

  • 25% - 30% of fat.

The advantages of the study

This study seems very interesting, because as many as 247 volunteers took part in it (but only 162 finished it), whereas, everybody had problems with excessive body mass (overweight or obesity). Additionally, the volunteers didn't know if they are given saccharose or HFCS, becaused they were randomly assigned to particular diets by a computer. The experiment lasted for 12 weeks. Apart from antropometric measurements, including body composition (DEXA), there was also the test of blood sugar, insulin, lipids and CRP. Except from the nutrition intervention, the volunteers gradually increased their physical activity, but it wasn't too demanding.

The results

If we were to base our knowledge on the gossips concerning the influence of glucose-fructose syrup on the body, it could seem that all of the diets will rather make the process of reduction harder. After all, refined sugars “fatten”, not “support slimming”. However, because of the fact, that the calorific balance is the key during losing weight, the scientists observed the loss of fatty tissue in case of all kinds of diet. What's interesting, possible discrepancies between the volunteers getting HFCS and saccharose were statistically insignificant.

Also the changes in the metabolic parameters occur to be readable. It turned out that, independently from the kind and amount of the used sweetening additive, among all of the volunteers there were the following advantages:

  • decreased level of the total cholesterol,

  • decreased level of LDL,

  • decreased level of triglycerides.

The comment of the study

Of course, the changes in the lipid parameters mentioned above, as well as those in body mass and composition, were not caused by adding saccharose or HFCS, but by the decreased energy supply in total and the loss of body fat. If the diet had positive energy balance, there's no doubt that the results would be different! However, would there be any significant differences between the influence of saccharose or HFCS on human body? I'd rather doubt it...

The drawbacks of the study

The study described above, despite obvious advantages, also includes drawbacks. Many volunteers didn't last till the end of the experiment, vast majority of the participants were women, people over the age of 60 were excluded from the experiment, and, what's most intriguing, the work was supported by the Corn Refiners Association, which may influence the impartiallity of the results. However, the conclusions are worth considering, at least because of the idea, the number of participants, methodology (double blind attempt, four kinds of diet allowing to compare the results of consuming saccharose and HFCS). You can read the whole description of the study under the link below:

http://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-11-55

If the study mentioned above was remote in its results, its reliability would be lower. However, it has to be underlined, that also other studies, to which it's good to relate to, incline similar conclusions.

HFCS VS saccharose in other studies

Melanson et al. (2008) revealed that there are no differences between HFCS and saccharose, when it comes to the influence on the level of: glucose, insulin, leptin and ghrelin, in case of women. Although the studies were short, the female volunteers supplied 30% of energy from the mentioned refined sugars. You can read more about it under the link below:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17234503

Also Soenen and Westerterp-Plantenga (2007) drew similar conclusions. They didn't observe any differences in the influence of beverages sweetened with HFCS and saccharose on the level of insulin, glucose, GLP-1 and the concentration of ghrelin, or – the feeling of satiety. In their experiment both, men and women took part. You can read the summary of this study under the link below:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18065574

Another study, in which the conclusions were similar to those cited a second ago, is the attempt done by Stanhope et al. (2008), in which there were no significant differences in the hormonal response after consuming table sugar and glucose-fructose syrup among the volunteers. However, it's interesting, that men react in other way on the mentioned components than women. In case of men, the increase of triglycerides after consuming HFCS and saccharose turned out to be similar to that after consuming pure fructose:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469239Za

The construction of a study done by Yu et al. (2013) seems to be very interesting. In this experiment the volunteers received 40, 90 or even 150g of table sugar or glucose-fructose syrup a day as a component of diet consisting of 2,000kcal. But also this time there were no differences between HFCS and saccharose in the matter of influence on particular metabolic parameters (the level of glucose, triglycerides, uric acid), or the level of hormones, such as ghrelin, insulin and leptin. You can find out more under the link below:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24267044

Summary

In this article I cited the results of studies, which point that there are no significant differences in the metabolic response of the body after consuming products rich in glucose-fructose syrup and saccharose. However, it does not mean that these additives are harmless for health or shape! It's opposite, they may be a huge threat for many reasons and a lot of studies indicate it. Even the one linked below:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25904601

It's best to avoid foodstuffs sweetened with glucose-fructose syrup, but we should also approach foodstuffs sweetened with saccharose with similar scepticism (both, of beet or cane origin). Both additives are the unwanted components of diet. None of them is “better”,or “more harmful”. HFCS and saccharose are very similar in the matter of flavour and the influence on human body.