Disguising Dangerous Sugars: High Fructose Corn Syrup
How many of us actually know what those hard-to-pronounce ingredients are on the back of some packaged products? The reality, probably no one but the manufactures that make them!
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a commonly used sugar alias – it is used in a number of products instead of sugar, mostly because it is so much cheaper and easier to produce. As the title of this article suggests, this corn-based sweetener is not our friend. The biggest problem with HFCS is how common it has become in processed foods. High fructose intakes have been associated with adverse health effects, including metabolic syndrome, hypertension, elevated triglycerides, and diabetes complications to mention a few.
The science-y bit: HFCS is a blend of fructose and glucose. Fructose is digested differently than glucose in our body. Glucose stimulates insulin release, a hormone which helps cells uptake glucose from the blood. This action helps our bodies release leptin, a hormone which stimulates a satiety response, telling our brain that we are full. Fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion, which means that leptin will not be secreted either.
Having said this, it is not wise to completely eliminate fructose from our diet, as it is the primary sugar found in fruits and we all know that fruits provide valuable nutrients. It is more important to be aware of how much fructose we are consuming.
HFCS is mostly found in processed products. You won’t be able to find amounts of HFCS on labels, but can gauge how much is in the product depending on where it appears in the ingredient list. Items at the beginning of the list are the most abundant and appear in descending order. So, if HFCS is listed as the first ingredient, run away! I say stick to the basics – avoid those middle isles at the grocery store where the processed, sweetened packaged foods are.
Common Foods with HFCS: regular soft drinks, fruit juices/drinks that are not 100% juice, pancake syrups, popsicles, fruit-flavored yogurt, frozen yogurt, ketchup, BBQ sauces, jarred/canned pasta sauces, canned soups, canned fruits (if not in its own juice), and highly sweetened breakfast cereals
I now challenge each of you to read the ingredients and make wiser choices about the foods you eat. If you need help clearing out your cupboards, you can always invite the knowledgeable Oakville Nutritionist into your home!
For a great HFCS free recipe try our Raspberry “Ice Cream”.
Guest blog by: Anisha Gupta
Flavin, D. (2008, December). Metabolic danger of high-fructose corn syrup. Retrieved from http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2008/dec2008_Metabolic-Dangers-of-High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup_01.htm
Mohr, C. (2008, August 21). The dangers of high fructose corn syrup. Retrieved from http://diabeteshealth.com/read/2008/08/20/4274/the-dangers-of-high