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Ugh, Is She Really Going To Talk To Me About High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Posted Jan 15 2009 11:46pm
Sorry, but I am. The way I look at it is if I'm going to spend a lot of time sharing with you why I don’t buy certain food products because they contain high fructose corn syrup, I probably should start with what I’ve learned about this stuff and why I’ve chosen to limit my family’s consumption to it.

Anyway, here goes -- I'll try to make it as short and “sweet” as possible…

Let me start by saying, I am by absolutely no means a food scientist or certified nutritionist. Quite frankly, I’m lucky to have passed high school chemistry. With that said, I am a concerned mother who has with the help of tons of magazines, newspapers and websites tried to educate myself about all sorts of nutrition topics and have calculated the pros and cons of much of what I’ve learned in order to make better choices for my family.

In recent years the debate about the possible health risks of high fructose corn syrup has gotten pretty sticky – forgive the pun. Nutritional researchers are somewhat divided about the depths of these risks, however, one thing they seem to all agree on is that high fructose corn syrup plays a role in the nation’s growing rate of obesity. Not to mention, HFCS has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, accelerated aging and it raises blood levels of cholesterol and a type of fat know as triglyceride.

While, or course, we all know and have been told time and time again that we should limit the amount of sugar in our diets in order to manage weight gain, I feel the opinions on high fructose corn syrup are scary enough to warrant special attention and concern. More food producers than ever are using high fructose corn syrup in their products today (read ahead a couple of paragraphs and you’ll see what I’m talking about). High fructose corn syrup is a cheap commercially refined sweetener that provides many prepackaged products with a longer shelf live and is easier to work with then sugar (among other money-making manufacturing positives). Unfortunately for consumers who are loading up on more and more processed foods than ever before, they are also likely loading up on HFSC and the empty calories they travel with. It is theorized that unlike traditional cane sugar, our bodies process high fructose corn syrup differently. It is speculated that HFSC “alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function and it forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.” In translation, what we’re left with is tricking our bodies to eat more because we don’t feel full and have increased appetite while simultaneously storing more fat.

While most people know that high fructose corn syrup is found in soda it is also lurking in many, many more products that you might never even consider – like yogurt, breakfast cereal, juice/chocolate drinks, soup, jelly, ketchup, bread, cookies, snack crackers, diet foods, ice cream, other frozen foods – truly, I’m just scratching the surface here. Although I’ve never actually checked, I have a strong suspicion you would find HFSC in almost every aisle of the supermarket. Here is where the real concern comes in. HFSC is found in so many of the foods we consume today yet we don’t even have a clue its there and when our bodies absorb too much of this stuff is when we can really get into trouble.

Don’t believe me, prove it to yourself. As a not so fun but educating exercise, open up your pantries, cabinets, refrigerators and freezers. Grab the first package that catches your eye and read the nutritional label and then keep going. How many times do you find the words “High Fructose Corn Syrup” among the products in your home? I’d love to hear your results.

Don't get me wrong, this stuff appears in so many of our food products today that unless you have limitless funds to buy strictly organic or can grow everything you and your family eat right in your backyard, it is tough to avoid HFSC completely. But with all the growing concern around this sticky, icky stuff, read your labels and like me, whenever possible try to replace these products with something that might help you sleep better at night.

Remember, we're just trying to lead better, healthier life -- none of us are stretching for perfection, right?

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