High Fructose Corn Syrup – Do You Think It's Sweet?

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Do you eat food products containing high fructose corn syrup? HFCS is a product that is manufactured from corn, and it is not a whole, natural food. It is broken down chemically in a laboratory and then reassembled as HFCS. Most HFCS is produced from genetically-modified corn.

You can get an idea of how corn syrup is produced is from a very interesting film called King Corn.  Two young men go to Iowa and are given a piece of land on which to grow conventional corn for one season. Through the film they learn just how corn is grown and harvested, and about all the different products we consume that contain corn.

One of the highlights of the film is when the two friends decide to investigate just how corn syrup is made, attempt to visit a corn syrup plant and then make their own batch of corn syrup at home. I highly recommend watching this documentary which shows two young men who decide they want to trace the roots of the corn industry in America.

Here are some products containing this artificially produced sweetener:

  • ketchup
  • mayonnaise
  • candy
  • jam or jelly
  • crackers
  • soft drinks
  • juice and “juice” drinks
  • breads
  • boxed cereals
  • yogurt
  • many other processed food products

Here is a short list of fast food restaurants using HFCS in their products:

  • Arby’s
  • Blimpie
  • Burger King
  • Chick-fil-a
  • Dairy Queen
  • Jack in the Box
  • KFC, McDonald’s
  • Subway
  • Taco Bell
  • Whataburger

Here are some of the dangers associated from consuming HFCS*:

  • The development of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and and increase in triglycerides and LDL or bad cholesterol levels. Because it wreaks such havoc on the digestive system, it also causes liver disease.
  • HFCS is devoid of nutrients and will actually strip nutrients from the body.
  • HFCS contains unbound fructose in massive quantities, and this prevents the cardiovascular system’s use of magnesium, copper, and chromium – essential minerals for heart function.

(*source, Weston A. Price Foundation)

The American Corn Refiner’s Association maintains an elaborate web site proclaiming the virtues of HFCS as a natural sweetener, and why not? Besides manufacturing “natural sweeteners”, they are a multi-billion dollar corporation and leaders in the industries producing biotechnology, ethanol, starch, corn oil, and feed products. They have leading medical and health experts and “research” backing their claims that HFCS is an important component in the human diet, and continue to tell the public that this substance does not cause obesity, heart disease, nor diabetes.

The corn grower’s association also has produced various advertisements making the claim that it has “natural ingredients”, is made from corn and is “fine in moderation”. Oh, really?:

It is no wonder it is so pervasive in our food supply and people are so convinced it is a harmless substance for consumption. It is important to remember that when you are looking for answers, always check to find out who is funding the research and what the entity providing said funding has to gain from such activity.

Be aware that HFCS is toxic to the body and is found in many processed foods. To avoid this dangerous substance, eat natural, traditional, and organic foods. You will find that your health will flourish and you will avoid many health issues.

Here’s a good list of healthy sweeteners to be used in moderation:

  • Raw honey
  • Stevia – the green, powdered form that is unrefined (avoid Truvia and other refined versions of Stevia that are processed and white, liquid Stevia is an acceptable second as it still doesn’t spike blood sugar levels the way many other refined sweeteners)
  • Sucanat
  • Maple syrup (real maple syrup, grade B is the best choice as it contains trace minerals and nutrients)
  • Palm sugar
  • Maple sugar
  • Lakanto by Body Ecology – a naturally fermented sweetener from the luo han guo fruit and non-GMO erythritol; does not spike blood sugar or feed candida; fantastic for baked goods

Keep in mind that although these sweeteners are better for you and many of them do contain nutrients, they should also be used only on occasion.  Human beings naturally gravitate toward sweet tastes, it’s encoded in our DNA.  However, any sweetener you consume too much of can cause your body to stop burning fat as a fuel source and ultimately can have an adverse affect on normal weight levels in your body. Sweeteners also overload your pancreas, cause digestion to be sluggish, and also have a negative impact on normal appetite, energy, and mood levels.

Here are some ways to cut back on sweets:

  • When you feel a sweet tooth urge coming on, try eating some cheese or nuts, or some other food you enjoy containing a healthy fat. Often when you crave sweets, it’s a signal that your body really needs something with healthy fats
  • Keep fruit around to snack on
  • Avoid making baked goods and foods with starches or grains in them too often. These foods, even when prepared properly, can become addictive and also contain sugar – even though it’s natural sugar – which can still have adverse effects on health when consumed too often
  • Allow yourself a treat every now and then – designate a time for eating something sweet and stick to it. Then don’t eat that treat again until the next designated time, such as once or twice a week. When you do eat treats, make them healthy with healthy sweeteners and avoid artificial sweeteners like HFCS, Splenda, aspertame, Truvia, or saccharine.
  • Maintain a diet with healthy, whole foods. The more satisfied your body is nutritionally, the less you will crave sugar which is really often a sign that you are hungry and need real food.
  • When you do eat sweets, consider adding a natural healthy fat to your treat such as real cream, cheese, butter, coconut oil, or milk. Real fats help balance out the spike we experience in our blood sugar levels and can keep things in our digestive process more even when we consume sweets.

For an overview of corn and its impact on our health and the environment, read How the FDA, corn, and oil are killing people.

7 Comments

  • JenE
    June 22, 2010 - 11:41 AM | Permalink

    I would have put this sentence in bold type;

    “It is important to remember that when you are looking for answers, always check to find out who is funding the research and what the entity providing said funding has to gain from such activity.”

    I like to remind people of that point when they show me various articles from the web.

    Thank you so much for this post!

  • June 22, 2010 - 12:02 PM | Permalink

    Jen – thanks for your acknowledgment of this important fact when fact-checking and verification of information. It’s always interesting when you find out that an entity or party has much to gain from information they promulgate and back research for answers.

  • June 22, 2010 - 7:56 PM | Permalink

    Raine,I hope you don’t get tired of me praising your posts, but this is another great one!.

    My wife and I have found that the best way to kill a sugar craving is to eat lots of pastured butter. This actually causes the craving to disappear.Real cream has the same effect.

    When we do use sweeteners, we use raw honey and real maple syrup, grade B, as you have recommended. We do not use them very often, and only in small amounts.

  • June 22, 2010 - 11:54 PM | Permalink

    I love this raine! I had posted an article a while back on the care and feeding of teens and decried the use of HFCS in the diet. I got a lot of negative comments from people who said I didnt know what I was talking about. The resistance to believing that the food industry could consciously sell you large quantities of something that is bad for you really surprises me! Will be sharing this on my Thoughts on friday cause you so rock the research! :) Alex

  • June 23, 2010 - 7:10 AM | Permalink

    I am happy to report that I have been HFCS free for months now. And you know what, I don’t miss it. We try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, and when we do purchase them we look for ingredients that we know and avoid this stuff like the plague.

  • June 23, 2010 - 10:01 AM | Permalink

    Stanley – it would be hard to get tired of praise…so thank you very much for your continued readership and I am glad these articles are useful (although I suspect you know as much about all of this stuff as I do, or more!). I appreciate your comments and support of the real food movement!

    Alex – thank you for the kudos as well, Alex! That is too bad that people were giving you negative comments. It’s hard to imagine why people would defend horrible, toxic, processed foods and ingredients, but they do. I have personally witnessed it. Food is such a hot topic, it’s just as touchy as someone’s political or religious affiliation, which I think is just silly. Food profoundly and in far-reaching ways affects every single person on the planet, so it’s difficult to see why so many people blindly purchase, support, and eat these products. Oh wait, I think it’s the food. It’s doing something to their brains. :)

    Robyn – good for you! The more people I hear about who are consciously avoiding these horrible ingredients and products, the better. I’m hoping that someday those still using them are in the minority and eventually these corporations and organizations that produce, sell, and support them will be out of business and defunct (like the Corn Growers Association and many medical and health organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association for starters).

  • July 16, 2010 - 11:47 AM | Permalink

    I thought the funniest part of the movie was when they visited the HFCS plant and they talked to the woman in her office. (They wouldn’t give them a tour if I remember correctly). The woman sounded so fake to me when she talked about how HFCS was actually good for you. I don’t remember exactly what she said but it was pretty sad but funny at the same time.

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