(NaturalNews) It is likely a no-brainer to many in natural health world that processed, refined sweeteners like white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are unhealthy. Studies continue to show that these toxic sweeteners lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other serious illness. But in the mainstream world, these is still somehow a debate over whether or not these toxins are actually harmful, and over which one is preferable.
It should come as no surprise that the biggest defenders of processed sugar and HFCS are the industries that produce them. Of course the Corn Refiners Association is now spending big money marketing HFCS as safe – after all, it is one of their primary cash cows. Some of this group's untruthful claims include alleging that HFCS is natural – because it comes from corn – and that it is safe in moderation.
Most people with even the slightest bit of understanding into the subject wholly disagree with such claims. So does the myriad of scientific studies that indicate that processed sweeteners like HFCS are partially responsible for America's growing disease and obesity epidemic.
Even the American Heart Association agrees that excessive sugar is harmful, as do many nutrition experts who recognize the dangers associated with excessive sugar consumption. There is still a problem, though. The battle is mainly between processed sugar and HFCS and whether or not one is healthier than the other, not whether there is a difference between highly-refined and natural sugars.
Most of the Western world seems to adhere to an ideology that makes no differentiation between refined and unrefined, but rather assesses health based on the number of calories a person consumes. Many so-called nutrition experts agree, claiming that low-to-moderate intake of sugar and HFCS should not be a problem as long as calorie-intake is kept in the proper range.
The problem with this way of thinking is that it fails to assess whether or not a highly-processed substance in-and-of-itself poses health problems in spite of its caloric content. A calorie is a generic measure of energy, and the way the body processes food is far more complex than a simple measure of calories.
The truth of the matter is that both refined white sugar and HFCS are harmful to health, whether consumed moderately or in excess. Obviously the more one consumes, the worse off he is, but the point is that the debate is focusing entirely on the wrong hypothesis.
The best forms of sugar are the ones that occur naturally in things like fruit and vegetables. And when a recipe calls for an added sweetener, natural options like stevia, raw agave and coconut sugar are far superior to refined sugars because they contain vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are otherwise stripped away during refining. These co-factors contribute to the digestion and assimilation of sugars, keeping the blood sugar at proper levels. When these are not present, the body is unable to process the sugar properly, leading to all sorts of health problems.
Rather than model themselves after Big Tobacco by defending their harmful products, the refined sugar industries should confess that their products are harmful and begin investing in natural alternatives. But since they likely never will, health-conscious individuals can continue educating their friends and neighbors about the truth, and steering consumer preference away from the toxic sweeteners that currently dominate the mainstream food and beverage markets.