NO! Of course not!! Don’t be fooled by the ads funded by big agricultural companies that tell you High Fructose Corn Syrup, or newly labeled “fructose” by the Corn Refiners Association, is safe and just like sugar. It’s not. In fact, new studies are showing just how awful it really is for you. High fructose corn syrup is one of the leading causes of obesity in the US and is found in more things than you would think.
This sweetener can wreak havoc on the body, triggering a cascade of inflammation, and can be extremely addicting. If you care about your health, then it is crucial to keep high fructose corn syrup out of your diet. Let’s take a closer look at what high fructose corn syrup is, why it’s so bad for you, and where you will find it. Read on to become a pro at uncovering hidden sources of this toxic sweetener.
What is High Fructose Corn Syrup or Fructose?
High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn starch. It is also commonly referred to as its HFCS, glucose-fructose, isoglucose, and glucose-fructose syrup. This is important to know when it comes to identifying this sweetener on the back of food labels. High fructose corn syrup is made by breaking down the cornstarch into syrup. The sugar is made of glucose, and then enzymes are added to turn some of the glucose into fructose which is what gives this sweetener is overly sweet flavor. Another problem with this is that fructose can be very hard on the liver, and when not consumed in its natural state such as in fruit, it can lead to inflammation.
So, why do companies use high fructose corn syrup if we know just how bad it is for our health? Well, it all has to do with cost. This sweetener happens to be quite a bit cheaper than other sweetener options. The use of this cheaper option really started becoming popular back in the 1970s, and we continue to see its use in numerous foods today despite all the education we have regarding how detrimental it is to our health.
Why is HFCS / Fructose So Bad for You?
High fructose corn syrup is detrimental to your overall health in many ways. While the government approves its use in many processed foods we see today, it is the furthest thing from healthy and is actually quite dangerous. High fructose corn syrup has been linked to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, inflammation, and even cancer. Consuming foods with high fructose corn syrup can also lead to overeating.
Since high fructose corn syrup consumption adds so much fructose to your diet, it can also lead to issues with liver health. Fructose needs to be converted to fat or glycogen which is a process done by the liver. This process needs to take place in order for the fructose to be used for energy, which is very different from glucose which can be used for an immediate source of fuel. The body is not well equipped to go through the process of converting fructose to a usable form of energy regularly, so consuming foods with high fructose corn syrup regularly can put stress on the liver and cause inflammation.
Where is it Hidden?
High fructose corn syrup is most commonly found in soda, but it is also found in things like cereal, juice, and many store-bought desserts. One of the scariest things is that this toxic sweetener is commonly found in the juice and desserts served in hospitals. Unfortunately, this sweetener has no place being in foods served to anyone, let alone those who are sick. This is why reading food labels is so important, it’s not enough to trust.
HFCS exists in obvious and less obvious places. Here are just some of the products it may be hidden in.
- Salad dressing
- Frozen meals
- Canned fruit
- Protein bars
- Ketchup and other condiments
- Candy (obviously, but even some so-called healthy candies)
Some of the foods on this list are even thought of as being health foods. However, sweeteners including high fructose corn syrup are often found in them, so it is super important to read food labels on everything. Stay away from anything that has high fructose corn syrup in it, (or better yet, stay away from anything that has any added sugar in it - period). If you need help choosing a healthier sweetener option, keep reading! We’ll talk about that next.
How to Find Healthier Options
One of the best ways to find healthier options is to completely avoid processed foods. Choose whole and unprocessed food options that don’t have an ingredient list. Things like fruit, veggies, raw nuts and seeds, wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat, and pasture-raised eggs all make great additions to a healthy diet.
If you do consume some packaged foods, that’s ok too, just be sure to stay away from anything with high fructose corn syrup in it, and opt for foods that are naturally sweetened with things like pure maple syrup, or raw honey.
The Bottom Line
Taking a stand to completely eliminate foods with high fructose corn syrup or fructose in them is an excellent way to help safeguard your health. Staying away from this sweetener will cut your risk of diabetes, weight gain, inflammation, and even certain cancers. It can be tough to make these changes at first, but when you recognize how much this toxic sweetener increases your chances of chronic disease, you’ll likely find it’s worth the transition. You can support your overall health with a diet rich in whole and nutrient-dense foods. Remember that you have a choice to nourish your body with every single bite you take, so make this smart choice to support your health and fight against disease.