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Food Challenge: Get the HFCS Out!

July 19, 2010

How are you doing with reading your food labels?  Tedious, at times, I know, but I’m hoping that it opened your eyes a bit.  Find anything scary in there?  Well, my next challenge is to take on a specific ingredient.  And you’re going to be mad at me, because you’re going to find that it’s in darn near every packaged food product – High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, this little food additive has gotten a lot of press in recent years.

Long story short, this is a chemically produced sugar-substitute, derived from corn, that is under much scrutiny.  FitMommas is not the site for in-depth research, so please, please take some time to read up on HFCS, take it for a spin on Google and find out for yourself what all the hubhub is about.  But my consensus is this:  It is a questionable sweetener that we don’t know enough about.  And it’s in everything.  I mean, freaking everything!  Condiments, crackers, breads – not mention cookies, cakes, etc.  And not that your fridge should be stocked with soda anyway, but soda companies have stopped using plain ol’ table sugar and switched to HFCS to save a few pennies a can.  I don’t know, I’d rather go with what we know is bad for us naturally, rather than creating weird shit in a laboratory.

So what’s so bad? There is research emerging that HFCS (1) causes more weight gain than regular sugar, (2) does funky things in the liver, such as scarring and causing fatty liver, (3) may increase chances of adult-onset diabetes, and (4), at least in the case of our friendly lab rat, may dramatically cut life expectancy – in one study, rats subjected to a HFCS diet died after five weeks as opposed to the normal five years.

Keep an eye out on new studies, but in the end, none of us are lab rats, so you kinda just have to say…why am I putting such a questionable chemical in my body?  And if you’re wondering what can be so bad if the food industry is using it so much, please remember what Big Tobacco taught us – corporations are not concerned about your health.  The food industry uses HFCS because it’s dirt cheap (and we, the consumer, want cheap!), mixes well with other ingredients (read: better texture cookies!) and it has a freakishly long shelf life.  Well, I’m all for preservation, but not of my internal organs.

Not to lay down sleeping while the dogs attack, the Corn Refiners Association has put together its own campaign at www.SweetSurprise.com, including TV commercials that you may have seen, touting the benefits of HFCS, while trying to debunk all those nasty myths.  By all means, read through their site.  I am a firm believer in understanding the other side of the story.  “You cannot fully understand your position until you understand your opposition.”

So I hereby challenge you to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup.  You may not be able to.  You may find that some of your favorite products have it, even ones you consider healthy.  But where you can, make the switch to products that don’t use it.  Let us know here at FitMommas what common items you’re switching to.

To give you a place to start, we recently switched ketchup and syrup.  Rather than Mrs. Buttersworth (yes, that was painful!), we now use Log Cabin – the only syrup brand, other than pure maple syrup, that doesn’t use HFCS.  And my whole life, I’ve used Heinz Ketchup.  Not now.  Earlier this Spring, Hunt’s stopped using HFCS to respond to customers’ demands, and they made a new customer in me.  Anyone else have any new favorite (or old favorite) products they’d like to share?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2010 3:25 pm

    Sour cream and yogurt … have to read labels to find the ones without HFCS. After comparing labels, I only buy Daisy Sour Cream. It didn’t surprise me to find yucky ingredients in the store brand, but I was surprised to find it in Prairie Farms. I also try to avoid “modified food starch,” and I can’t remember at the moment if PF has HFCS, MFS, or both. But you’re right, having to read labels is WORK.

    And don’t get me started on yogurt. Why is it so hard to find yogurt without artificial sweeteners and/or HFCS? I buy Dannon Vanilla, which has sugar, but I wish I could afford the yummy goodness they have at Whole Foods sweetened with honey.

  2. Amy permalink
    July 22, 2010 10:42 pm

    It is totally surprising how much of the HFC is in stuff….I was appalled when I looked at Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup….It is the FIRST ingredient! I put this in my child’s AM and PM milk!!! Nestle (the Bunny one) doesn’t have it. Ritz crackers have it!!! I have been raking through my pantries and refrigerators and getting rid of stuff. My husband isn’t too terribly crazy about this but I don’t care. I am a firm believer of eating stuff as close to nature intended.

    I did find at the grocery store today…..Wild Organics had come out with a 6 pack of soda!! A couple of different flavors! It was only $2. So less per a can than getting a Coke out of the vending machine!

    Oh and if you are going to use syrup on your pancakes….do it right!! Splurge for REAL maple syrup! YUMMY!! A lot of it comes from the East- So you are not only buying something good for you…it is from the US!

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