One of FoodFacts.com’s Facebook friends recently asked us about high maltose corn syrup and whether or not it was as bad as high-fructose corn syrup. We thought that the FoodFacts blog would be the best place to address this and look at both sweeteners in more detail.

Once you begin researching the subject, one of the first concepts you encounter is the idea that sugar is sugar, in basically any form – and there are many different forms. For instance lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. Fructose is found in fruit and honey. Maltose is a sugar formed by glucose. Our bodies process all sugars in the same manner. High-fructose corn syrup and high-maltose corn syrup, both derived from corn, are sweeteners containing greater amounts of their respective sugars (fructose and maltose). These are processed sweeteners (read sweeteners created from corn – they do not naturally occur).

It sounds pretty simple. So what’s caused the big controversy? If our bodies metabolize all sugars the same regardless of their origins, is the fuss we’ve all heard really necessary?

The Center for Disease Control statistics show that as of 2010 over 33 percent of Americans are obese. Not only that, it relates that there is not one single state in the nation that reports less than a 20 percent obesity rate. Obesity is a problem that has the nation very concerned about the health of our population as well as our future. Out of 195 countries, the U.S. now weighs in at #9 for overweight adults. The numbers are big and they just keep growing.

Some believe that everyone in the U.S. shares a common problem that could be the root cause of our obesity epidemic – the consumption of corn products and sweeteners. Believe it or not, high-fructose corn syrup is in just about every processed food on our grocery shelves. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are consuming an estimated annual 140 pounds of it per person. Researchers at Princeton University have discovered that the affect of adding high fructose corn syrup into the diets of lab rats points to the concept that our overly processed diets composed of significant amounts of corn sweeteners really is the root of this problem. The Princeton study compared male rats given water sweetened with high fructose corn syrup in addition to a regular diet of rat chow against their counterparts who were the fed rat chow alone. The rats consuming the high-fructose corn syrup sweetened water experienced abnormal weight gain as well as large increases in triglycerides and fat deposits. The sweetener affected both the weight and heart health of the control group.

The connection between the consumption of corn sweeteners and obesity, while compelling, is still a SUSPECTED connection . In fact there are those that charge that the Princeton study cannot be valid as the male rats in the high-fructose corn syrup test group were given the equivalent of 20 cans of soda per day.

What does this mean to you?

First of all, the differences between high fructose corn syrup and high maltose corn syrup aren’t much of a concern. They are both corn based sweeteners and they are both processed food products. While scientists point to the concept that all sugars break down in your body the same way, recent studies are, in fact, illustrating that corn sweeteners can be linked to obesity and heart problems. And while not proven, there’s some pretty compelling information available that would lead us to think that avoiding both as often as possible can’t be a bad idea.

So, from FoodFacts.com, the message remains the same: Consume less processed foods and you’ll have a better understanding of what you’re eating and how it benefits your body.