What's the straight dope on "inverted cane sugar"?

As I sit here reading the ingredients list of my Jones Soda (excuse me, “Pure Cane Soda”), I notice in the list of ingredients that it lists “inverted cane sugar” as its second ingredient. So I must ask, exactly what is this stuff? The larger packages proudly proclaim their products don’t have high-fructose corn syrup, yet some websites seem to think that this inverted cane sugar is nutritionally no better than HFCS. Wikipedia’s stance on it seems poorly written and more relevant to a baker’s POV.

So what’s the deal? How much better for you is it than HFCS (if any) or how much worse than straight granulated sugar? Please try to explain this in a manner that won’t fry my brain from the complex chemistry of the glucoses and fructoses and such. :wink:

See here (bottom of the first column).

Invert sugar is still sugar. HFCS is Devil’s-Snot.

The Encyclopedia Britannica?

Some problem with the EB that I am unaware of?

Perhaps because BrandonR asked for a simplified answer that didn’t “fry [his] brain from the complex chemistry of the glucoses and fructoses and such”?

Well if I’m understanding this chemical equation, invert sugar is just water and sugar? Like a simple sugar syrup? Color me unimpressed.

Oh, and I wasn’t trying to say that I’m completely against any science… I was just hoping to avoid discussions of “invert comes from the way that sugar syrups rotate plane polarized light” which is from the Wikipedia article. :dubious:

Sorry, that’s wrong. Invert sugar is a physical blend of the simple sugars fructose and glucose. The key word is physical, because a chemical blend of fructose and glucose is the disaccharide known as sucrose, common table sugar. Commercial inverted cane sugar is in syrup form, but the water just makes it easier to use. The important fact is the fact that the fructose and glucose are not chemically combined.

Invert sugar has different properties, including sweetness, than sucrose. It’s most commonly found in the form of honey. Honey may or may not be a 50/50 blend - usually not exactly in fact - and it may contain minor amounts of other sugars, but it close enough to invert sugar that it can be called that in general non-specialized conversation.

On food labels in the U.S. the word “sugar” always and exclusively means “sucrose.” So invert sugar is not “still sugar” any more than lactose or maltose or honey is, except in the technical sense that they are all sugars.

High fructose corn syrup is in fact much more similar to invert sugar than to anything else. It can come in several varieties, but the most usual form is 52-55% fructose, 42-43% glucose, and 3-5% other sugars. There are people who think it’s the devil but realistically there is no different in nutritional value among any of the sugars, and no good proof beyond internet hysteria that HFCS is worse than any other sugar in quantity. The Wiki article on HFCS discusses the studies and concludes that any effects are still anecdotal at best. It’s kind of cute that the sort of people who rail against HFCS are also the kind of people who will talk up the wonderful organic naturalness of honey without realizing they are almost exactly the same thing.

My advice is simply to avoid too much sugar of any kind at all. There’s no good scientific evidence at all the HFCS is any better or worse than sucrose. You should avoid both equally in excess. But that’s true for honey and molasses and raw sugar and corn syrup and every other type of sugar. It’s all the same to your body. It breaks down into glucose within 45 minutes and the body doesn’t much care what it was before or after that.

Invert Sugar at Wikipedia.

You can make invert sugar from normal sugar by dissolving some sugar in water, adding a drop or two of an acid like vinegar, and letting the mix sit overnight.
The acid breaks down (hydrolyzes) the link between the two simple sugars which make up sucrose, and you end up with a 50:50 mixture of glucose and fructose.
Honey is a natural source of invert sugar, although bees use an enzyme (invertase) to hydrolze the sucrose in nectar, rather than an acid treatment.

Has nobody quoted Kayro on this matter yet?

just asking…


I have seen a study somehere that shows that HFCS had a lower “satiety” rating than sugar, in other words it doesn’t “satisfy your hunger” as well. But that hardly makes it the Devils-joy-juice. :dubious: I’ll try and find it. Incidentally Potatoes had a very high rating, thus the common spud actually does OK on a diet ).
The highest SI score was produced by boiled potatoes (323 +/- 51%) which was seven-fold higher than the lowest SI score of the croissant (47 +/- 17%).

This is interesting:

Ah maybe this was it?
"The increased use of HFCS in the United States mirrors the rapid increase in obesity. The digestion, absorption, and metabolism of fructose differ from those of glucose. Hepatic metabolism of fructose favors de novo lipogenesis. In addition, unlike glucose, fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion or enhance leptin production. Because insulin and leptin act as key afferent signals in the regulation of food intake and body weight, this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased energy intake and weight gain. Furthermore, calorically sweetened beverages may enhance caloric overconsumption. Thus, the increase in consumption of HFCS has a temporal relation to the epidemic of obesity, and the overconsumption of HFCS in calorically sweetened beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity."

Some dudes can taste the difference between cane-sugar and HFCS in a soda; and of those that can, most prefer cane-sugar.

I regularly try to make the points that a) one study is never proof of anything; b) epidemiological studies are particularly difficult to get right and interpret; and c) you can’t tell anything about the value of a study from its abstract.

HFCS may have some effects and they may be the ones described in those abstracts. However, we are nowhere near being able to say anything with any authority.

I do agree with your comment that both Sugar and HFCS should be avoided but there have been several studies and/or articles done that support the “HFCS” is not the same as sugar theory, especially as it related to weight gain:



Good Video Here (UCSF, Dr. Lustig) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Is sugar bad for zombies? Also, how do people keep finding old threads like this?

Anyway, one thing that people miss when they claim that use of HFCS mirrors obesity is that** total** sugar consumption per capita also increased over the period in question (at least until 2000). That is, over-consumption of sugar in general is the problem (in addition to too much food overall), regardless of what kind of sugar it it (I always get a kick out of labels that proclaim “No HFCS!” for sugar-laden products).

High fructose corn syrup is basically a physical mix of roughly equal parts fructose and glucose. Inverted cane sugar, by contrast, is basically a physical mix of roughly equal parts fructose and glucose. No, wait, that’s not a contrast at all.

Even if cane sugar is somehow better than high fructose corn syrup, that doesn’t say anything about inverted cane sugar. About the only way inverted cane sugar could be any better than HFCS would be if you’re allergic to some trace chemical in corn.

Truth Is Treason is your basic nutbar survivalist site. I wouldn’t trust them if they wrote that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.

Real science, but one study done on rats. It may be possible to extrapolate this to humans, but another study must be done for that.

This is a student’s paper for a class assignment.

You have no idea what research is. As I wrote five years ago, the science may be out there but it is nowhere near definitive yet, and five years hasn’t changed that any.

You would do much better searching this site for the many threads on HFCS that have appeared over the past five years - with contributors who both know and understand the subject and know and understand what a decent cite is - than searching Google for random hits.

Google. (This thread is the second link, after Wikipedia.)

That is immediately what I thought when I read “inverted sugar”.

CS (Kayro) is a well known form.


A long time ago I worked in a sugar refinery. I was an instrumentation technician and not directly involved in the processing of the sugar. I recall that invert sugar is sugar syrup with some type of acid added to it. I remember them saying that this syrup was used in making ice cream, etc. because it would not crystallize at low temperatures. I don’t remember it as anything other than a liquid that went out of the refinery in bulk tanker trucks.

Not sure if this helps, but that was my memory of it.

I’m not sure what you mean by this, but I assume that CS stands for corn syrup. If so then I assure you that it is not invert sugar nor does it resemble invert sugar in any way.

Well, we need to carefully read the studies, as the term High-Fructose Corn syrup can mean anything from 34% fructose to 90%fructose.

Most commercially used forms aren’t that different from the 50%-50% makeup of sucrose.

Excessive fructose can lead to problems, but it does not seem to matter where you get it from.