Have you seen those commercials lately promoting high-fructose corn syrup? Boy, do those ruffle my feathers! They usually have some person about to eat something with HFCS and other one saying something like, “You’re not going to eat that, are you? It’s got high-fructose corn syrup in it. You know what they say about it.”

Then the second person says, “What? That it comes from corn, doesn’t have any artificial ingredients, and is fine in moderation?” Agh! It’s maddening! Especially because the truth behind this whole ad campaign is really a fight between the HFCS and sugar industries—kind of like those political ads where one candidate is always trying to make the other look bad? Well, I’m here to clear up the issue for you once and for all.

The truth is that HFCS and sugar are bad for you, and your body is better off without both of them. As for HFCS, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream more quickly than sugar (due to the extra fructose), and because it doesn’t need insulin to enter cells, it’s not as well controlled in the body. The result is that it’s made into triglycerides and cholesterol (and do you really need me to tell you that high cholesterol and triglyceride levels are bad??).

Also because it doesn’t need insulin, HFCS actually increases appetite, which definitely doesn’t help if you’re trying to lose weight. And don’t forget that more than one study last year found… wait for it… mercury in almost half the HFCS samples tested, and in one third of the products on the market that listed HFCS as one of the first two ingredients. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any extra toxic metals in my body!

Still, that doesn’t make sugar the cream of the crop. Eating too much sugar is just as bad for your body, and it leads to a host of chronic illnesses like obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Not only that, but sugar is a favorite food source for harmful yeast organisms in the gut, including candida. Yuck!

So the moral of the story? Do your best to avoid sugar altogether, but if you have to have a little sweetness, definitely avoid high-fructose corn syrup, since even table sugar is a better-for-you alternative. Really the best choice is to use a natural sugar substitute when your sweet tooth starts acting up—I promise your body will thank you!