High Fructose Corn Syrup: Not So Sweet

There is a new ad campaign with commercials all over the major networks, trying to persuade the public that high fructose corn syrup is just as healthy as regular sugar, and fine in moderation (ironic, since the foods highlighted in the commercials, like cereal and juice, are usually every day foods). Now, if we learned one thing in this past election, it's this: don't believe every commercial you hear. So what is the truth behind high-fructose corn syrup, which is found in sauces, cereal, candy, soda, juice, and even ketchup?



There are a couple issues that seperate HFCS from a natural sweetener like stevia, sugar, or agave. For one, it's a chemically altered food, and doesn't occur naturally in nature. The Center for Science in the Public Interest called the corn refiners' campaign "deceptive" for comparing it to sugar. Although sugar and HFCS do have the same number of calories per serving, sugar is still a more natural option. However, both sweeteners should be avoided as much as possible, since either can lead to obesity.

Some scientific research points to adverse health effects from fructose, a type of sugar that makes up 55% of the sweetener in soft drinks with corn syrup. The digestive and absorptive processes for glucose and fructose are different. Unlike glucose, which the body uses, when one consumes large amounts of fructose it is a relatively unregulated source of fuel for the liver to convert to fat and cholesterol. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar.There are also links between HFCS and acne, ADHD, autism, Lupus, and Fibromyalgia symptoms.

Lastly, HFCS has a big carbon footprint - meaning it takes a lot of energy and fuel to make. It uses more fertilizers and insecticides and causes more soil erosion than other crops, and it's rarely made with organic corn.

How, then, to satisfy a sweet tooth without going with HFCS? It may not be on your grocery list, but you can scale back your consumption by reading the labels of processed foods you buy. You might be surprised how prevalent it is. As for tabletop sweeteners, the best options for health and the planet are locally produced organic honey and real maple syrup from the United States. Agave nectar is extracted from cacti that grow in the Mexican desert -- not exactly local, but at least it's on this continent -- and it's also popular because of its low glycemic index. Sugar comes in many forms and grows mostly in tropical climates, requiring transportation; the best bet is to go organic and steer clear of the white variety.

Mama Manifesto's bottom line: eat less processed foods altogether, and if you have yet to discover agave, it's time to make the switch!!

4 comments:

  1. GOOD POST! It makes me sad to think how many of my friends and even some people in my family are unaware of how terrible HFCS is... It is definitely a change... You will have to buy different kinds of foods and maybe forget about certain foods altogether. But it's worth it!!!! Thanks for the info!

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  2. When I first saw these ads on TV I was so furious, I immediately contacted the corn refiner's association to complain. How completely misleading and frustrating!

    Thanks for the great post, I'm going to link to it on my blog. It's refreshing to know there are others that are just as passionate about whole living (especially for our kids!) as I am.

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  3. Thanks for the post! Two things: I've found that my sweet tooth is actually LESS prevalent since I cut it out of my diet. Eating less total sugar in my foods have made me crave it less.

    Secondly, these commercials have actually RAISED awareness for HFCS, which is a very bad thing for the corn refiners association. Try googling it and you'll see why. I've got stats and analysis here if you're interested: http://www.thereluctanteater.com/2008/10/proof-sweet-surprise-high-fructose-corn.html

    Cheers!

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  4. our best fight against high fructose corn syrup might be the advancement of Michael Pollan for Secretary of Agriculture even if it is only in name.

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