People sometimes confuse fructose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), thinking they are both natural sweeteners. Corn refiners would like you to believe high fructose corn syrup is indeed a natural sweetener.
Well, it all depends on what you call natural.
Fructose vs. High Fructose Corn Syrup
Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruit. It occurs naturally; it’s an intrinsic part of fruit. There’s no debate there, fructose is natural.
High fructose corn syrup, on the other hand, is never found in nature. It may be found in everything from sodas and fruit drinks to condiments, salad dressings, baked goods, and even baby food, but it is not found in any unprocessed food.
Instead, high fructose corn syrup is a man-made product. It’s a highly processed ingredient made by using enzymes to treat starch extracted from corn. The Center for Science in the Public Interest and other groups categorically maintain that HFCS cannot be considered natural because its chemical bonds are broken and rearranged in the manufacturing process.
The FDA has not defined the term natural, so the debate rages on with the corn refiners on one side wanting to call high fructose corn syrup natural because it’s made from corn, and groups on the other side saying there’s no way to call it natural.
The Plot Thickens While HFCS Sickens
Furthermore, diets high in high fructose corn syrup may harm the liver, raise triglyceride levels and promote insulin resistance. In one study done in 2007, sodas sweetened with HFCS were found to be high in reactive compounds thought to trigger tissue damage that promotes diabetes. Fructose found in fruits doesn’t cause any such problems.
It seems to me it’s pretty simple. If a product exists in nature, it’s natural. If it doesn’t, and has to be produced by a manufacturing process, it’s no longer natural.
By any realistic definition, high fructose corn syrup is NOT a natural product.