High-fructose corn syrup may be sweet, but it’s far from innocent
By Ashley Stites
We all share the 3 a.m. pizza vice in college, but high-fructose corn syrup can keep us out of our skinny jeans just as easily. The thick liquid creeps into ingredients like an unwanted visitor and we consume the damage without ever realizing it.
According to Sarah Short, a nutrition professor in the College of Human Services and Health Professions, the main problem with high-fructose corn syrup is that it has empty calories that make you gain weight without any of the nutrients your body needs. For college students looking to avoid or burn off their freshman fifteen, many everyday foods are suspect.
Soda is the biggest offender: high-fructose corn syrup is the second ingredient in sodas, only behind carbonated water. High-fructose corn syrup isn’t only a junk food affliction, but also fills seemingly healthy products. Many fruit juices provide more of the syrup than vitamins, so you might as well grab that Coke. Check the label on your salad dressing before you pour it on those greens and you’ll often find high-fructose corn syrup ranked third on the ingredient list. The syrup is the third ingredient in ketchup as well, only behind tomato concentrate and distilled vinegar. Forget jellies and jams, too. The main ingredients in those are fruit concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup, in that order. It even fills bread loaves, cookies, and energy bars.
Although the sugary filler sounds unavoidable, you can steer clear of it by looking for products that use cane sugar instead. If you can’t resist soda, Blue Sky and Steaz are two organic soda brands that both use cane sugar. There are also natural ketchups, jams, and jellies that use cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup – just look for the word “natural” on the label. Finally, the easiest way to avoid high-fructose corn syrup is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, which make snacks just as quick and filling as cookies or energy bars.