High fructose corn syrup is a man-made product that is produced by using enzymes to extract sugar from stocks of corn. This sweetener should be avoided as it has been linked to a variety of maladies including obesity, cardiovascular disease, blood sugar imbalances, diabetes, fatty liver, liver failure, leaky gut syndrome, decaying teeth, hypertension, elevated LDL / bad cholesterol levels, immune suppression, dementia and cancer. Not to mention it can actually damage DNA.
Big Food loves high fructose corn syrup because it is both cheaper and sweeter than cane sugar. Highly refined cane sugar is bad enough but high fructose corn syrup delivers a fix that rapidly enters the blood stream causing blood sugar spikes and the quick release of insulin. This in turn causes an increase in appetite and a trend toward weight gain and obesity over time.
The common sugar that sits in the pantry at home is sucrose. Sucrose is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose – the molecules are held together by a chemical bond. This bond creates resistance and makes it harder for the human body to metabolize.
High fructose corn syrup is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. This may seem like a small difference but the there is no chemical bond holding the molecule together making it much easier for the body to metabolize – hence the aforementioned blood sugar spikes.
Recall that 93 percent of corn produced in the United States in genetically modified, so if high fructose corn syrup is consumed it most likely comes from a GMO product. One study found mercury in over half of high fructose corn syrup samples taken.
The easiest way to avoid high fructose corn syrup is to avoid sodas and sugary drinks. (No, this does not mean drinking diet / sugar free sodas as they contain aspartame or other toxic artificial sweeteners.) Normally it is best not ‘drink your calories’ but as an occasional treat there are drinks out there that don’t contain high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners – Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist all offer beverages ‘made with real sugar’. The international section of your local grocery store may also have Mexican Coke. Snapple does not contain high fructose corn syrup and here is an article from The Huffington Post with even more ideas including Hansen’s, Blue Sky and Izze. (Again we’re talking about an occasional splurge, not a regular indulgence.)
As consumers have become more educated to the dangers of high fructose corn syrup some in the food industry have resorted to changing the name that appears on the food label. If you see Fructose or HFCS-90 move on to the next product as these both indicate high fructose corn syrup. The fact that they are in effect hiding this ingredient tells you everything you need to know.
Other foods that contain high fructose corn syrup include candies, frozen deserts, candied fruits, breads, crackers, granola bars, yogurt, cereal, ice cream, and condiments and sauces (i.e. ketchup and barbecue sauce). Other surprising foods that may contain this sweetener are peanut butter, deli meat, oatmeal, applesauce, miracle whip, canned soups, canned tomatoes and even cottage cheese.
This underscores the importance of reading food labels – know what goes in your body!
Sources used in this article include