By now you’ve seen the commercials about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) put together by the Corn Refiners Association. In it, people get called onto the carpet by their friends and family members for mentioning that HFCS is unhealthy. Those friends and family state that it’s all natural, just like sugar, because it’s made of corn.
Yeah, well, so’s biodiesel but I’m not exactly going to start using that as a salad dressing.
Here’s the deal. Supposedly, the jury (whoever they are – lobbyists, scientists, food manufacturing representatives) is still out on all the effects of HFCS but there are several studies that indicate it’s not the holy grail of sweetness that we are being lead to believe it is by the corn industry. Here’s a good article from Diabetes Health with some basics about the difference between HFCS and other sweeteners and what they do in your body.
In the commercial I mentioned above, the chastising friend says, “It’s perfectly fine in moderation.” The problem is, there’s no way to moderate it if you eat the way most of us in the U.S. are accustomed to eating. HFCS is ubiquitous. It’s super cheap and can be used as a flavor and a preservative so food processing companies can, and do, add it to pretty much everything we eat, from soft drinks and desserts to condiments, cereals, breads and even cough syrup. (Look! Someone made a list.)
As part of my 6 Week Challenge goal to eat more “real” food, I did an experiment. I looked in my fridge to see how many items in it had HFCS as an ingredient.
The things I found range from cocktail sauce to salad dressing to jelly. I’m actually surprised at how few things had HFCS. I figured it would be about 90%, not 25%.
Now what? Here’s an article from WikiHow on how to avoid HFCS. Their last tip is to buy fresh produce and learn how to cook it. This is a great reminder to me to finally, finally join a CSA (community supported agriculture). I’ve been meaning to do this for years. Now’s the time. I’ll let you know how it goes.