Until the 1970s, most sugar was sucrose derived from sugar beets or sugar cane. But sugar from corn, especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is now more popular because it is much less expensive to produce.
It also contains nearly twice the fructose of the sugars that came before it. Between 1980 and 1994, average fructose consumption rose from 39 pounds per year to 83 pounds per year.
Fructose contains no enzymes, vitamins or minerals, and it leeches micronutrients from the body. Unbound fructose, found in large quantities in HFCS, can interfere with the heart's use of minerals such as magnesium, copper and chromium.
Fructose also reduces the affinity of insulin for its receptor, which is the principle characteristic of type 2 diabetes.
HFCS has been implicated in elevated blood cholesterol levels, and it has been found to inhibit the action of the immune system's white blood cells.