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Difference Between Sugar and Corn Syrup

Sugar vs Corn Syrup

Sugar and corn syrup are two forms of sweeteners used by people to enhance the flavor of foods and beverages.

Both sugar and corn syrup contribute to a person’s diet and weight. The reason why people are consuming sweets or using these forms is that they enjoy the pleasant taste and the quick energy it provides. However, in terms of nutritional value, both sugar and corn syrup are quoted as “empty calories,” meaning there are a lot of calories with no nutritional value. Both forms of sweeteners are made by a combination of glucose and fructose. However, both sugar and corn syrup differ in many ways.

Sugar, also known as table sugar or sucrose, is made from sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugar has many known variants by its color–refined sugar, or white sugar, and brown sugar. Sugar is a natural and direct product. It was also considered the traditional sweetener until the emergence of corn syrup. It crystallizes when cooked and is used in cooking as well as in baked products.

Sugar, in terms of its chemical structure, is a disaccharide. Meaning two simple sugars are linked together. Some sugars occur in fruits and vegetables but in lower concentrations. Sugar is also a label for a diverse and important subdivision of carbohydrates. The label also applies to its products and its varieties.

On the other hand, corn syrup is the modern alternative for sugar as a sweetener and flavor enhancer. Sugar acquired a negative reputation in terms of health due to its bad effects on the body and weight.

Corn syrup has its origins from corn. It is a processed product. It starts as corn, then is turned into cornstarch, and finally processed into a syrup with the help from two enzymes in its production.
Aside from being a sweetener and a flavor enhancer, corn syrup also functions in providing volume and softness. Other functions of corn syrup include its use as a thickener and a humectant (retains moisture). It resists crystallization and extends the shelf life of the products wherein it’s incorporated. Corn syrup can either be light or dark in color. Its main derivative is high fructose corn syrup, a controversial substitute

Compared to sugar, corn syrup is made up of polysaccharides. Since corn syrup came from starch (which is a complex sugar), its chemical bonding is different and includes more molecules of sugar.


1.Both sugar and corn syrup are sweeteners and flavor enhancers used in cooking and baking foods. Both are classified as foods with plenty of calories but no nutritional value.
2.Sugar is also known as table sugar or sucrose. It is made from sugar cane or sugar beets. On the other hand, corn syrup came from corn.
3.In addition to being a sweetener and a flavor enhancer, corn syrup also adds a multitude of functions: it adds volume, softens the foods, acts as a thickener and as a humectant (retains moisture). Also, corn syrup extends the shelf life of the foods wherein it is incorporated.
4.Corn syrup undergoes a lot of processes and is chemically changed. It starts as corn which is then turned into cornstarch. Cornstarch, in return, is turned into corn syrup with the help of two enzymes. In contrast, sugar is a natural product and also naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables.
5.Sugar is classified as a disaccharide (two molecules) while corn syrup (as it is made from starch) is a polysaccharide (many molecules).
6.Sugar is the traditional sweetener while corn syrup is used as its substitute. Sugar has been under a negative image due to its harmful effects on body weight.
7.Corn syrup can be classified as light or dark while sugar is known by two variants–brown or white sugar.

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