Yikes! High Fructose Corn Syrup Health Risks

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Corn fieldHigh Fructose Corn Syrup, or HFCS for short, is a sweetener derived from corn. The syrup made from corn undergoes enzymatic processing in a lab to turn some of its glucose into fructose, making it sweeter. HFCS is much cheaper to process than sugar (due to import taxes on sugar and corn is produced domestically in the U.S.), therefore many food companies choose to use high fructose corn syrup in their products instead of the more expensive sugar. This shift happened in the past 50 years as the government provided subsidies to U.S. farmers (read: they make more money growing corn and soy (also subsidized) than other crops) to provide incentive to grow more corn for mass food production. The lower cost of corn vs. sugar drives prices down on the more processed foods and keeps the prices of foods containing real sugar higher. It’s easy to see why companies might choose to go this route and it’s also easy to see why people are more inclined to buy these products. The company can sell more products due to the lower cost and the cost of production is low. The consumer likes the price tag and can’t really taste the difference. So, what’s the problem and what are the High Fructose Corn Syrup health risks?

High Fructose Corn Syrup Facts

Any time I hear that a food has undergone changes in structure in a lab, it sets off warning bells in my head. Corn is naturally sweet. Maybe not sugary sweet (although some varieties are pretty sweet), but sweet none the less. To add chemicals and cause it to undergo large changes in composition seems bizarre and dangerous.

Banned In Other Countries

The government approves the use of HCFS in products made in the U.S., but some countries have outlawed it. Why? I wondered what made them take such drastic steps to keep it out of their foods if the U.S. deems it safe for human consumption. Is it dangerous? I really didn’t know.

My kids (and I) have certainly consumed it. My husband is a Pepsi addict (UGH! I HATE HATE HATE spending money on soda. Empty calories and if it is corrosive enough to break through a clogged drain! So what is it doing to your insides??? These are scary enough thoughts to make me pretty much avoid it and I wish I could get my husband to do the same. Maybe one day, but I digress…). So he’s certainly had his share of HFCS.

HFCS Linked to Obesity

Plastic cup of sodaSo, is it really dangerous? The answer isn’t as simple as the proponents of corn-based products would like you to believe. Simply put, it really isn’t any more “dangerous” than sugar. But, since HFCS has found its way into so many products (even baby formula!), consumption has also increased (more than 1,000% since the 1970’s according to some sites including Huffington Post).

In a day when obesity is an epidemic in our country, it is something to be concerned about. Sure, the body seems to process it the same way that it processes any type of sugar. That isn’t the problem – although no long-term studies have been done, so long-term effects may still show up. In fact, recent studies show that HFCS can trigger inflammation throughout the body. The problem is that so many foods hide high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients – even in products that it doesn’t really “need” to be in like breads. Is it really THAT much more expensive to put a Tablespoon of sugar in a loaf of bread than HFCS? Nature’s Own doesn’t think so. Their bread is HFCS-free and it really isn’t any more expensive than other leading brands of bread). Because it is so prevalent in our diet, it can be connected to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. (just to name a few).

Overconsumption of HFCS is a major one and it isn’t likely to be resolved any time soon. Between 1970 and 1990, the consumption of high fructose corn syrup increased more than 1,000%. This is because manufacturers are using it more and more due to its preservative qualities and its lower cost. More than 40% of all caloric sweeteners added to foods and drinks are from high fructose corn syrup.

Does HFCS Contribute To Diabetes?

Glucoseis a simple sugar form that is transported through the body in the blood. This is what the body uses for energy. When diabetics test their blood sugar, it is the glucose they are measuring. Fructose, on the other hand, does not stimulate insulin secretion or require insulin to be transported into the cells. Fructose requires a different metabolic path than other carbohydrates because it skips the normal process of carbohydrate metabolism. As a result, fructose is an unregulated source of the starting material for fatty acids to form. This leads to over eating and excessive weight gain which is very dangerous to diabetics.

Can HFCS Be Avoided?

It is possible to avoid high fructose corn syrup altogether if you are vigilant about it. Checking food labels is crucial, but there are some grocery stores that have special sections for “health foods” and there is often a specific non-HFCS section. Eating whole foods is also a good, natural way to avoid HFCS. High fructose corn syrup is most commonly found in processed foods. If you make your food from scratch, you can easily put in real sugar (if you are concerned about the processed part, use raw sugar instead of white sugar) or sweeten your food in other ways such as honey or agave. Just keep in mind that sugar is sugar is sugar and too much of a good thing is, well, too much of a good thing. Moderation is the key with any type of sugar. Moderation is just hard to achieve where HFCS is concerned.

How do we define “too much” high fructose corn syrup consumption, or what it means to consume it in “moderation”? In my research, I was unable to find any recommendation for a maximum limit. Therefore, my personal conclusion is that because high fructose corn syrup is estimated to be in more than 40% of all foods, we can safely achieve “moderation” only when we aim to limit it all together. In other words, if we strive for total abstinence, high fructose corn syrup is sure to slip in unnoticed and when we least expect it to; this unaccounted for and out-of-our-control consumption is likely to be enough to be classified as “moderate consumption”.

Tips to Cut Back on High Fructose Corn Syrup

Some simple ways to not only cut down on high fructose corn syrup consumption, but also to moderate your sugar intake, as a whole, are to:

  • Replace sweets with fruits (fruits still contain sugar, but naturally occurring sugars in fruits combine with healthy vitamins and minerals instead of giving you empty calories)
  • Don’t buy processed foods – eat a whole food diet, when possible, with fresh, non-processed ingredients
  • Buy organic – even processed organic foods tend to contain real sugar
  • Real the label – if you see high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list, do not buy it

If you occasionally treat yourself to a soda or white bread, don’t beat yourself up. It is a factor in the obesity epidemic, but that has to do with over consumption vs. the actual product itself.

Ending the Epidemic

Hamburger fries and sodaWill removing high fructose corn syrup from your diet really end the obesity epidemic that has overtaken the United States? It probably won’t alone. An overall healthy diet and an active lifestyle including exercise are crucial to turning the trend around. A part of that is monitoring how much processed food goes into your diet. Since almost all processed food includes HFCS, it is an integral piece of the puzzle to ending obesity. Read labels and take responsibility for what goes into your body. Your body, your family and your future, will thank you for it.

11 Unexpected Foods that You Will Find High Fructose Corn Syrup In

High fructose corn syrup is found in many foods that are produced in the United States. This is because it is cheap, made from corn and therefore in abundant supply, and acts as a preservative to boot.

Naturally sweet, it has come to be a cheap alternative to table sugar and baking sugar, as well. Over-consumption of high fructose corn syrup has become a health concern for many, as the ingredient is listed in literally thousands of different foods, including many that are unexpected.

The average American eats over 41.5 pounds of high fructose corn syrup annually, and it has similar detrimental effects on your health as cane sugar does.

Cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes are all linked to excess sweetener consumption, and dentists cite high fructose corn syrup as the cause of many cavities and other dental issues. Genetic modification of corn that is used to produce high fructose corn syrup is also a rapidly growing concern for consumers. Juices and soft drinks, as well as candy, cookies, canned fruit, and other sweets are famous for their use of high fructose corn syrup as a principal ingredient. Yet it can be lurking in many places you might not expect, such as:

  • Yogurt: Flavored yogurt can provide you with more than seventy percent of your daily sugar intake in a single serving. High fructose corn syrup prevents the solids from separating from the liquid parts of the yogurt, preserving the creaminess. It also preserves the fruit in the yogurt by keeping it firm and preventing flavor loss. To minimize consumption, read labels carefully, and opt for plain or Greek-style yogurt in place of flavored, adding your own fruit, nuts, or cereal to taste.
  • Salad dressing: Salads seem like a healthy option, but the wrong dressing can add sugar to even your most nutritious meal. High fructose corn syrup is said to enhance color, texture, and flavor in salad dressings. Choose a natural dressing made without sweetener such as Newman’s Own, or create your own salad topping using olive oil, herbs, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Cereal: Starting your day off with heaps of sweetener can definitely lead to a mid-morning blood sugar crash, and you may be getting more than one day’s worth of sugars in a single serving of breakfast. Look for cereals that are made without high fructose corn syrup, such as Cheerios, Grape Nuts, or any of the all-natural Kashi brand cereals.
  • Bread: Choosing an all-natural whole-grain variety without high fructose corn syrup may cost a little more, but the health savings will be numerous. High fructose corn syrup gives bread sweetness and lengthens a loaf’s shelf life, so you will need to use the bread a little faster. Look at the fine print on the ingredients list to be sure you are free of the sweetener when picking up bread or baked goods. This goes for pita bread, naan, baguettes, and all other bakery items, as well.
  • Blog of ketchupCondiments: Ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce may all contain high fructose corn syrup. Read ingredients before purchasing, and use sparingly if you must. The addition of this sweetener may extend shelf life and preserve color and texture, but is a sure way to add loads of sugar to nearly any meal.
  • Granola bars: Thought by many to be a healthy, high-energy snack, granola bars may as well be candy bars outright because of the amount of sugars these pack in. High fructose corn syrup preserves crunch and flavor, and gives that gooey-ness that people are crazy for, but will leave you drained and tired rather than energized. Pick a bagged trail mix instead, or choose brands that use regular sugar or are sweeter-free to lessen the sugar impact.
  • Canned vegetables: Canned fruits were once preserved in heavy sugar syrup, but light sweetener prevails today in canned goods, including canned vegetables such as green beans, beets, corn, peas, mushrooms, kale, and more. Avoid these by choosing natural brands, many of which list that they are also low-sodium. If you are having trouble finding canned goods that are corn syrup-free, consider buying fresh as needed or at the least switching to frozen vegetables, which still last a long time but with much less sweetener.
  • Soups: Canned soups are also relying heavily on high fructose corn syrup these days in order to stay preserved longer and to maintain flavor and soupiness. Bottled or boxed soups are also under the corn syrup spell. Amy’s brand of soups pack in flavor and shelf life without the added salt, preservatives, or corn syrup.
  • Lunch meats: If you are not watching what you eat carefully, a baloney sandwich on white bread with mayo and barbecue sauce can be an unadulterated corn syrup trap. Lunch meats may not seem like a place for high fructose corn syrup to hide, but as a flavoring and preservative, lower-quality packaged meats are a very likely source for this sweetener. Smoked flavor, barbecue, or other flavored meats are also likely to have high fructose corn syrup enhancements. Fresh deli meats will last you a week or more and are much lower in sweeteners, or choose packaged deli meat that is corn syrup-free.
  • Pasta sauce: Tomato sauce, Alfredo sauce, mushroom sauce, cream sauce, and meat sauce are just a few of the types of pasta toppings that contain high fructose corn syrup. Most major brands rely on this, but some, such as Newman’s Own, do not. Check pasta sauce labels carefully, and buy from the bottle rather than canned. Or create your own sauce using tomatoes, herbs and olive oil, though be sure to check your tomato paste for high fructose corn syrup as well.
  • Applesauce: This common snack for adults and children may have more than you bargained for in terms of sweetener. Choose bottled sauce over canned if possible, and check the labels. As with all other products, a label that lists a product as “all natural” does not mean that the food does not contain high fructose corn syrup.

 

Mother of four boys and the wife of a minister in Georgia. The world is full of medical “miracles” but over time and lots of experience, this mom has discovered that raising a natural baby creates the most wonderful bonds and lessons for her children.

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51 Comments on "Yikes! High Fructose Corn Syrup Health Risks"

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heidifromoz
I make my own with as natural ingredients as possible (have to use some kind of sugar obviously, so I choose raw brown), yet mine keeps for months without going off. Once opened it stays in the fridge and is fine. I also don’t have a problem living without most of the items listed above. I think people are too conditioned to buying ready prepared and have lost the art (and/or interest) in making their own.

Kathy Faust
For a while there, I was kind of driving myself a bit nuts when I went grocery shopping. I was looking at labels and trying to decide what I want to avoid buying. There are quite a few chemicals that I want to avoid and they seem to be in just about every food that comes in a package.

I had a list I took to the store with me every time I went shopping. If a food had something that was on the list in it, I just did not buy it. Have you ever read labels like that? It turns an hour of grocery shopping into 3 hours of research. And do you think that they make the label easy to read? No. I probably had my glasses changed just from reading the tiny labels. Then I started the method of only buying foods that had ingredients I could pronounce. But that sucked because I am very well read, so it became more of a vocabulary challenge than anything.

Now, I just buy food that has ingredients I do want instead of not having the ingredients that I don’t want. I think the key is to really start thinking of food as nourishment rather than pleasure. What do you need in your diet this week?

Anonymous
After reading this, I just had to check my kitchen really quickly to see if high fructose corn syrup was actually in as many foods as they said. Surprise is on me: There was HCFC in sauces, mixes, cereal, drinks, even crackers and other foods I would never expect. I was hoping before I checked my own cabinets that the article was somehow wrong or out-dated, but apparently not. Many of the brands I buy are national brands, so

I can only imagine how many people are really in the same boat. This is appalling to me. It hit home-literally, in this case- that there really is no choice in the matter and that such a terrible health hazard as HCFC is nearly forced upon the public through the food supply. I am usually pretty diligent about reading how much saturated fat, sugars, and sodium are contained in the foods I buy, yet before now I did not even know to check for HCFC. I care about my health, as I think most people do, so it is important to me now to change my habits to lower my HCFC intake as I do with other junk food.

Kathy Faust
I can’t count the number of foods that I have had to give up in order to cut the amount of high fructose that’s in my diet. One of the biggest changes I made was to give up soda. That cut a huge amount of HFCS from my diet. However, I have also had to give up many of the cookies, cakes, and other drinks that I loved in order to consume less of this dangerous sweetener.

I will admit that I do occasionally purchase or eat something that has high fructose in it. There are simply some foods that I cannot give up. The good news is that I have cut the amount I ingest substantially, which I know has made a difference in my health. Since cutting my HFCS intake, I have been able to eat much less than I used to. I was amazed at how my appetite changed after cutting it out.

High fructose corn syrup is not something to ignore. The sooner people realize the risks, the sooner they can start living a healthier life. While commercials have done their best to brainwash people into believing that this is an okay ingredient, it’s not. This means you need to do whatever possible to cut as much HFCS as you can.

Anonymous
You know something weird. Sometimes when I look at the ingredients in a juice or in a Popsicle, I see that the only thing the food item contains is high fructose corn syrup, color and one or two preservatives.

When you think of juice with no real juice in it, it is just disturbing. I mean, these food items taste great, but what are you really eating? When I hear the words high fructose corn syrup, I don’t even think of yummy organic maple syrup, or even honey. I think of manufactured pancake syrup that’s been thinned out with water or something and made to taste like fruit. It’s a gross image I cannot seem to get out of my mind.

You will also find some of these juices or popsicles that have like 5% juice or 20% juice or less, but still, if 80% of my glass of juice or Popsicle is syrup, it just makes me feel all icky inside. I think back to childhood and I know that I pretty much ate and drank stuff like this all the time without knowing anything, so I guess the jury’s still out.

Kathy Faust
High-fructose corn syrup is something that I try to avoid like the plague. While many people have been brainwashed into believing that HFCS is the same as sugar, it’s not. What many people don’t realize is that this man-made sweetener can actually kill the part of your brain that determines whether or not you’re full. In other words, it can eventually lead to weight gain.

The bad news is that high-fructose corn syrup is impossible to completely avoid. If you eat out at any fast food restaurant, there’s a chance that HFCS is in everything you eat. Whether it’s the dressing for your salad or the dip for your chicken nuggets, high-fructose is every where. Even companies that claim to be healthy use HFCS, including Subway. It’s a real disappointment for those of us who care about what goes in our bodies, but something that companies don’t want to give up because it’s more cost-effective than real sugar.

The good news is more and more companies are getting rid of this ingredient and making it easier for you to make the best choices by announcing on the front of the package that the product is HFCS-free.

Kathy Faust
I tried to buy products after reading the labels in the average grocery store. I was on a mission to feed my family healthier foods that did not include high fructose corn syrup and a whole list of other chemicals. You know all those quick and easy meals you make at home out of the box? They are the first things that I had to avoid. I had no idea so many chemicals were in our foods. Finally, I just made it a point to start an organic garden so I didn’t have to question what was in my food. I already knew what was in it.

I am a single mother, a full time college student, a homeowner, and a business owner. It’s not like I had anything that remotely resembled spare time. But I had to start the garden because the older I got, the longer the list of health issues got. I looked at my child and knew I wanted more for him than some prepackaged garbage. So, whether I had the time or not, I had to go the garden. Trust me, if I can make the time to feed my family right, so can everyone else.

Anonymous
As any good health professional will tell you, there have been a number of studies and medical research into the effects of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) on the body. There are a number of health risks and issues associated with its consumption.

The main problem is that this stuff seems to be in just about everything! You cannot even eat a yogurt without consuming some HFCS. Almost every study has indicated that one of the worst problems is overconsumption.

This substance (HFCS) has also been associated or linked to a number of diseases. Since this is essentially a very pure form of sugar, it may end up making people more prone to developing diabetes. It has also been linked to obesity. Now, to be fair, it may simply be the problem of overconsumption again rearing its ugly head. However, the food industry should be willing to step up to the plate and do something to help resolve these issues.

The ultimate alternative is removing us from the system. This will involve refraining from eating anything that comes in a can or package.

Kathy Faust
I thought about my childhood after reading this and I realized we were just a household of corn syrup addicts. In fact, we did not even use maple syrup on our pancakes. We used corn syrup. And my step-mom would not be caught dead without a Pepsi in her hand. The whole thing kind of makes me feel like I got off lucky because I was allergic to chocolate as a child and as I grew up, I realized it was probably the caffeine that I was allergic to. But because of the allergy, I rarely ate sweets at all and the taste of sugar just gagged me.

I think this probably limited how much of this poison I ingested. Today, my father an step-mother are both obese and have diabetes. Neither of them has changed their diet and they think I am paranoid when I tell them about things like this. Of course, I haven’t avoided it altogether because I eat canned vegetables, but this article certainly made me take a look in my cupboards to see what else I had in there.

It is alarming the way that the government allows this to continue, without regard for our health. If anything, they probably enjoy the fees associated with medical costs.

Anonymous
One of the factors which all kinds of studies have linked to many different types of health problems is that of an excessive consumption of sweeteners. The biggest culprit of that in the typical American diet is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). According to the article, HFCS can be found in just about every type of commercially produced and packaged product that is sold in stores today.

There is a list provided in the article of foods which contain HFCS. You will certainly be surprised to see things such as canned vegetables, bread, soups, salad dressings and even pasta sauce. It seems that this item is something very difficult to get away from. It is a huge problem, considering the fact that this may be addictive and even linked to an increase in diabetes. Of course, all of this still has not been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt…but would you like to wait for all of the data to come in and be argued before making changes in your diet? Basically, we should stop eating things that come in a package or a can.

Anonymous
I remember going all the way back to my elementary school days that the food guide pyramid told us that any sweet-related food should be ingested with extreme moderation. Now at the time, I think they told us that there were differences between sugar and artificial sweeteners and there were risks to both, but as the years have passed it seems that we are learning more and more about how artificial sweets are even worse for you than the real thing. It stands to reason really that the more chemicals we seem to ingest, the worse off we all will tend to be.

Most recently though, I have heard that artificial sweeteners that supposedly contain no calories like sugar and high fructose corn syrup do, still make the body react in the same manner as the sugars do and there is really no benefit of cutting the calories.

I’m not sure I fully understand this statement, but in the process of trying to live a more healthy lifestyle, I can certainly understand that the less manufactured food products I put in me, the better off I likely will be.

Kathy Faust
I gave up soda almost two years ago and to this day still have the occasional craving. Just today I was wondering why I gave up soda in the first place – it wasn’t as if I were pouring chemicals into my body. Then it hit. Yes, I had been pouring chemicals into my body. As someone who used to drink six cans of soda each day, I was consuming a lot of high fructose corn syrup. Not only was it harder to find sodas made with real sugar, but many brands were also much more expensive than regular Pepsi and Coke products. While Pepsi did release Throwback editions, it was around the time that I was trying to cut back on soda.

While I have cut back on the amount of high fructose corn syrup I consume. I’ve found it absolutely impossible to cut it out completely. This man-made sweetener is in everything from bread to condiments. I have made many changes and worked hard to find almost everything in a high fructose-free version, but there are still a number of desserts that are loaded with this ingredient. One can only hope that the government will eventually ban the use of this sweetener.

an environmentally conscious drifter
Don’t forget to look for mono sodium glutamate while your at it. Google that one and blow your mind.

It's time to Explain Bontemedical
High fructose corn syrup is made up of fructose and glucose. Fructose is metabolized in the liver and glucose goes straight to the blood and causes insulin release where as fructose doesn’t. The interesting thing of fructose is converts to glycerol which converts to triglycerides which are the fatty components and lead to plaque build up in our arteries and heart. Other metabolized components in the liver may lead to pre-cancerous components. So now we have two bad things happening with just one part of the HFCS molecule. In regards to the glucose part, any free glucose not converted and used by the cells is stored as fat. Thus HFCS has two ways to contribute to fat deposition. The fructose containing part contributes to arterial plaque build up leading to stroke and heart attack. The second part of HFCS glucose leads to excess body fat adipose tissue which we all can relate to as belly fat, where it is normally stored. Once your body has an overabundance of fat cells the physiology changes from Leptin release to determine hunger to Insulin release to control blood sugar. This is one of the reasons an obese diabetic has such a difficult time controlling sugar and diabetes vs a non obese diabetic.

I plan on backing these claims and process with scientific studies then publish.

Kathy Faust
I absolutely hate high fructose corn syrup. Since giving up the sweetener, I have had to give up many of my favorite snacks. While this has helped me make healthier choices, I really do miss many of the foods I’ve had to give up. However, I do check some of my favorites from time to time and some companies have made the change. Unfortunately, one of my favorite childhood snacks is still made with high fructose corn syrup. Sometimes I give in and indulge in some of these snacks, but try not to on a regular basis.

I am happy that the commercials for high fructose corn syrup have come to an end. It bothered me immensely that people were being led astray and not given the whole truth about the sweetener. While high fructose may have the same amount of calories, you can’t change the fact that it contains mercury and affects the brain in such a negative way.

I’m also happy that more people are standing up and saying no to foods that contain this dangerous sweetener. This has led more and more companies to make changes. Let’s hope this trend continues cause we all know that the government isn’t going to step in anytime soon.

Anonymous
I admit, I am more than a little intimidated by these statistics. I had no idea that all of this un-necessary sugar and added calories were snuck into so many food products that I use every day. No wonder so many people are obese and have diabetes in this country; it is nearly inescapable. If there were no HFCS in all of these items that so many people use all the time, I wonder if overall weight gain would go down and if people would have fewer problems and complications associated with excess sugar consumption.

My instincts tell me that this is, unfortunately, probably the case. Just like the article says, there are so many people out there who do not even realize how much HFCS they consume and food producers give you no choice on the matter whatsoever unless you live in a place where expensive, homemade ketchup is available for sale at a specialty store or some such. I will not blame my own health struggles squarely on the system, but I think this article definitely was a warning sign for me that this is something I need to change in my diet as soon as possible.

Kathy Faust
We live in a sad, sad world when we must question many of the ingredients found in our food. I’m always impressed, yet sickened when I pick up a package and the shelf life is 3-5 years. While that may be good in the case of a zombie attack, I’d much prefer natural foods with real ingredients. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position where I can prepare everything from scratch. Even if I had the money, I wouldn’t have the time.

High fructose corn syrup has been one of those ingredients that I’ve tried desperately to cut from my diet. However, there are times when I just say forget it and buy something that I shouldn’t, such as Oreos. As I sit here and think about what I’ll have for dinner, I’m disappointed that my otherwise healthy meal from Subway will be slightly less healthy due to the fact that the company uses HFCS in their breads.

The only way you can avoid high fructose corn syrup 100% would be to make everything from scratch. It’s sad that we can’t depend on companies to provide quality products that are healthy to eat, especially when it’s companies hocking “healthy” food, such as Subway or Weight Watchers.

an environmentally conscious drifter
I agree that the state of most mass produced food in this country today is sad. And I don’t have much time either, as I am a single mom. Just wanted to encourage you that nowadays, due to more publicity on this subject, there are more and more healthy versions of the things we like to eat. You had mentioned ketchup; I recently bought Hunts Natural ketchup at Wal-Mart that has no high fructose corn syrup in it. Also, Paul Newman’s company makes a great version of Oreos, called Newman-O’s, which are delicious. And Fry’s/Kroger’s Supermarket has a healthy/organic section in many of its stores now. Please continue to look for and buy these types of products so that manufacturers will make more of them. As the movie “Fresh” states (found on Netflix), we need to vote with our dollars! Thanks.

Anonymous
Reading through this article and assessing the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, one thing stuck out to me and it was the part about it being potentially addictive. I know that more research needs to be done regarding this issue, but it would seem to me that if it is found to be somewhat physically addictive to human beings, it would only further my distrust for major food manufacturers.

I remember watching a documentary a few years ago about a man that ate only fast food for a period of thirty days. His body, as would be expected, suffered some pretty intense consequences. Obviously, he gained some pretty serious weight and his blood sugar levels went through the roof. But what was perhaps the most disturbing thing to me about that whole experiment was when he actually stopped eating the food he started to suffer withdrawal-like symptoms almost immediately. They never did pin down what exactly was causing them chemically, but the fact that his body started to “need” that kind of food made for a pretty scary thought. Could HFCS be that ingredient that is addictive?

Kathy Faust
What would be so wrong with a world where companies used REAL ingredients? I’m so tired of picking up packages and seeing a mass of unhealthy, man-made chemicals in food. It just bothers me that companies care more about the bottom dollar than making safe foods. I know they claim that they use high-fructose corn syrup because it’s less expensive, but I can just about bet that many people would be willing to pay more for healthier products.

It would be so nice to pick up a package and see sugar used for the sweetener. Unfortunately, it seems if high-fructose corn syrup isn’t used the product may contain other man-made sweeteners, including artificial sweeteners. However, I am pleased that more and more companies are opting to sell products that are HFCS-free. It seems like every few months, I’m able to check a product I used to buy and find that it’s now made with real sugar, which is so nice because there are a number of products I had to give up.

Personally, I think it’s time the government stepped in and banned the use of HFCS, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The government could care less about poison being in our food.

Kathy Faust
I’ve spent a few years trying to cut high fructose corn syrup out of my diet. While I know I can’t cut it out completely, I know I’ve cut back a lot, especially since I gave up soda. However, there’s something else I’ve learned while scanning the ingredients label for HFCS – a lot of foods are filled with a lot of chemicals and man-made crap. I’ve constantly been stunned at how an ingredients label reads more like a short story than a recipe. With that said, giving up high fructose corn syrup has actually made it easier to avoid bad foods in general.

There have been a number of foods I’ve picked up and put back after reading the label. The funny thing is some of these foods don’t even contain HFCS. These are just foods that I can’t bring myself to buy after I see the ingredients. It’s amazing how changing one thing in your diet can make such a difference.

It would be nice if the government cared enough to protect the American people from this dangerous sweetener, but I don’t see that happening. When companies can make a bigger profit, the government gets more tax money. In other words, HFCS is good for business.

Anonymous
Is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) okay to eat? I believe sugar whether it’s high fructose or not could be to blame for obesity and diabetes. People who don’t drink soda can lose as much as twenty pounds a month versus people who do drink soda. Soda is full of sugar and some is full of caffeine. Sugar may taste great, but what is sugar doing to our health? When people told me that HFCS was addictive, I looked at them like they were insane, but now, I’m reconsidering. I always wondered why sugar, by itself wasn’t sweet enough for me. After reading this article, I doubt that I’ll consume HFCS.

It’s a shame that we have no choice in consuming HFCS because of economic and politic reasons. We need more choices on how to sweeten our food and beverages than just sugar or HFCS. I’ve heard a buzz about some berry that people can put into food and that supposedly makes it taste sweet; even though the berry is bitter. There are artificial sweeteners, but they contain other ingredients that can potentially be toxic.

Kathy Faust
Lately I have been doing a lot of research on the topic of healthy eating. High Fructose Corn Syrup is just one of the many areas I found where chemicals are used that really do not add any kind of health quality to the food. HFCS happens to be one that is used more than most of the others. My solution was to just try to avoid buying anything that has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it. I kept a chart and recorded my energy level as well as my mood and so forth. I even weighed it against my facebook posts because I use it so much. It was a great way to monitor my outlook, hence my mood.

The first challenge was just being able to find foods that did not have HFCS in it. I did not want to take the easy route and just shop at a organic store. I think I really wanted to educate myself on how often HFCS is used. It worked well. I had a drastic change in my diet as well as my weight and mood, I felt much better and as a result, I was in a better mood and had more energy. I call my experiment a personal success for me and a major wake up call for anyone who knew me.

Anonymous
I grew up in the early 1980’s and, to my knowledge, high fructose corn syrup has been a regular sweetener in my daily diet for decades now. As early as my days in senior high school, I remember my home economics teacher talking about the dangers of this sweetening agent, but I always wondered about just how much worse it was for me than just regular old cane sugar.

Everything I know about health and nutrition tells me that sugar and sweet stuff should be at the very tippy-top of your food pyramid. This of course means it should be the smallest portion of your daily diet and limiting the intake of sweets is vital to the health and wellness of any individual. As far as I know, high fructose corn syrup has not had any more negative effects on me and my expanding waistline than regular old sugar has and I am certainly not afraid of it as a sweetener in my diet.

That being said, I do prefer natural things to more processed foods, but I do question the validity of statements that processed foods are solely responsible for obesity.

Kathy Faust
This stuff is found in so many products that the only feasible way to keep it out of your house is to become self-reliant or shop for all organic foods. I mean, if you can’t even open a can of vegetables without finding this syrup, it’s really time to rethink your shopping habits.

Obesity is becoming so common that it’s just sad. I don’t just blame products like these though. I blame the way society is in general. When I was a kid, we came home from school to do our chores. Part of those cores included working in the garden, whether it was pulling weeds or harvesting the crop itself. So not only were we eating healthier, but we were getting exercise just going out to get our food. It was a two-fold benefit.

Today kids come home from school to a fast food dinner that they eat while they are sitting on the couch. It’s like we are purposely trying to make them unhealthy. And if it isn’t fast food, it’s something that came out of a box. For years I thought I was doing good because I coked dinner and always made vegetables to go with them. Little did I know that those vegetables were loaded with things like this syrup. It’s time to get back to nature and hard work!

Anonymous
Not only is high fructose corn syrup everywhere, but the more we eat, the more we want to eat. This is a downward spinning spiral that can lead to obesity and a whole host of other health problems.

It also seems like the food companies themselves have become addicted to HFCS. According to a study quoted in the article, from 1970 to 1990 the consumption of HFCS increased by over 1,000 percent! Manufacturers love using this stuff because it has preservative like qualities and it is very cheap to both produce and use.

The author also points out that the substance in and of itself may also be addictive. Of course, more research is probably needed to make a realistic case for this, but it certainly seems like a very real possibility to me. After all, if it is in everything and then we eat it and want more, this seems like exactly what a pusher (or producer) would want to see out of something that was actually addictive.

As I was reading the article, I quickly began to wonder what one is to do in order to avoid or at least limit the intact of HFCS. Unfortunately, this is where the author lets us down. In fact the conclusion was simply that it cannot be avoided. Since it is in everything we would really have to stop eating just about everything which we are used to. Not only that, but making many of our own foods would be time and labor prohibitive and these natural foods would not last nearly as long as the store bought brands. This makes me wonder if anyone is ready to start a local food coop or get a new local food movement up and running!

Anonymous
Good grief the crap that they feed us!

Having had some health issues, this article could not have come my way at a better time. High fructose corn syrup is something which I have been investigating on my own for a while. It was nice to see some further validation of my own opinions, since most of what is written on this topic seems to be from mouthpieces with vested interests in continuing to promote the use of such a potentially dangerous chemical.

What actually is high fructose corn syrup? It is simply a chemical substance which starts out as sugar (the glucose found in cornstarch) and is turned into a different form. This is actually both a sweetener and a preservative.

Aside from the fact that this conversion is an entirely man made process which uses a bunch of dangerous chemicals, the stuff is in literally everything. It is almost impossible not to go about your life without having some kind of food item which has been treated with HFCS come across your path. Just a quick sampling of some foods containing this junk includes: cereals, snack foods, fruit drinks, sauces, spreads, salad dressing, condiments, jam, yogurt and much more.

There are two initial points which need to be reckoned with. First, the very fact that this junk is in almost everything make over consumption a realistic possibility. The only real way not to engage in over consumption here is to make a conscious effort to eat a more natural diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and organic meats and proteins. Secondly, research has shown that the more of this we consume, the greater resistance we develop to a protein in the body which helps suppress our appetite.

In other words, by eating more HFCS we are also limiting our ability to actually control our appetites. This could be a big reason why we are getting fatter and seem to be having a more difficult time losing any weight.

I first noticed HFCS in that cheap ice cream that came in plastic tubs back in 1976; I didn’t know what it was, but that sticky-sweet-bad-breath aftertaste let me know that there was something other than the usual sugar there. Since then, my revulsion to this stuff has helped me give up all kinds of unhealthy foods. Regular soda stopped tasting good in the ’80s, so I switched to diet. I can’t stand half the cereals on the shelf, (though, ironically, Capt’nCrunch (with no HFCS) still tastes as good is it did when I was 9), my usual choice now is oatmeal.

I’m now on a search for reasonably priced bread that doesn’t have HFCS. I don’t want to pay $5 a loaf, but whole wheat bread with HFCS is no longer edible (disgusting aftertaste), though for some reason, the stuff doesn’t harm the sticky-starch taste of Wonder Bread nearly as much. I’ll check Trader Joe’s in hope of finding something healthier than either. I’m lucky to hate this stuff so much; it’s probably part of the reason I’m not fat. It’s the people who actually think it tastes good who are hurt the most from it.

eury
Hmm, this article is interesting because there are all of these commercials trying to promote how natural and safe high fructose corn syrup is, but it just seems weird. I mean the name of the stuff just sounds weird. I am sure I drink and eat a lot of it on a daily basis, which is a bit scary. I just picture something like an unnatural, yellowy, sticky substance like sap. However, I guess after the commercials, I got to thinking that the stuff was not so bad, sort of, like how many people say that Vaseline and mineral oil are not that bad for your skin. It makes sense that the products would be bad, but so many experts say that it is not a big deal, and then you do not know what to think.

I wonder if high fructose syrup is more or less dangerous than sugar. I am starting to think though that when experts chime in and say that something is not a big deal when something in you is telling you it is bad, that expert has a financial stake in things, or works for a large company that does.

It is truly shocking how much high fructose corn syrup is in our foods though. I mean it might just have to be something that we get used to unless we want to start growing and making all of our own food from scratch. I wonder how much high fructose corn syrup is in organic foods, like in your average Whole Foods store. I wonder if most of the manufacturers that sell products there make an effort to use ingredients other than high fructose corn syrup.

Anonymous
I had my first gout attack about 10 years ago. At the beginning I was having attacks every 6 months. Then gradually I was getting them every 3 months, then every month and eventually every week. It started at my big toe and then it was moving sometimes in my knees,and generally all around my joints, in my feet.And the pain was agonizing.

I have tried all the cures you can imagine. I tried ACV, lemons, drinking a lot of water, but to no avail. I tried water fasting, juice fasting,baking soda, again without success. I almost gave up meat, limiting it to only once a week ,gave up alcohol completely,again no success. I was living on vegetables, lots and lots of fresh fruit, milk, cheese beans and so on.

My eating habits could not be healthier,or so I thought. But my gout was worsening. Then I decided to increase the amount of fruit I was consuming, thinking that if some fruit is healthy, more fruit will be more healthy. Some days I was eating fruit only,others over 10 portions a day. And alas my gout instead of improving it became chronic, it was there all the time.

I was desperate and did not know what to do. And then one day accidentally I read an article about fructose, which is contained in fruit in large quantities. It said that it increases uric acid, in a matter of minutes. Fructose is also present in table sugar, and in HFCS, which is used in soft drinks. I put two and two together and realised what I was doing wrong.

I stopped eating fruit and all other sugars, for a period of 3 weeks, and by magic I saw a dramatic improvement. Pain was gone, swelling was gone, I was fine. I re-introduced fruit again in my diet but reducing them to 1 or 2 a day, and my gout completely disappeared. I do eat more meat now, and occasionally have an alcoholic drink, and thank God everything seems to be fine. Fructose was my enemy.

Tony Phylactou

Alex Schenker
Hi Tony,

Wow, that is a remarkable story. Thanks so much for sharing with our readers, and we’re so glad you’re feeling better!

Anonymous
When making claims about the benefits or risks of fructose (or other foods), it would be nice if you would include references to the original research that supports your claims (as well as the research that does not support your claims). For the general population, I would suggest that you visit reputable sources before accepting health claims just because they appear on some web-site.

From my search of the available information, it does not appear that there is strong scientific evidence to support the claims that HFCS has a negative impact on human health other than the fact that over-consumption may lead to weight gain (as does over-consumption of other carbohydrates). Give me the science!

Alex Schenker
Excellent point. We’ve contacted the writer of this article and asked them to reply to your comment. Please stay tuned!

Anonymous
A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

Anonymous
Are we (the United States) the only country to use High Fructose Corn Syrup in our products? Probably not, but I do see us consuming a ridiculous amount of it. Until recently, I had to search and search at the grocery store to find anything that wasn’t completely loaded up with HFCS.

And whatever happened to Pepsi Throwback (Pepsi with real sugar)? I thought it did well, but it would be a shame if that was already shelved and we’re back to Corn Syrup. Does anyone realize just how bad this stuff is for you?

I’ve been going more and more to our local Mexican grocery store, which has glass bottled sodas imported from Mexico that all contain cane sugar (including Coca Cola with the cool logo and bottle cap) – they taste so much better too!

Anonymous
I can’t believe the U.S. is basically the only country that utilizes this chemical, titled as sugar, in almost everything we eat. It’s unfortunate for our future and our childrens’ future.

Anonymous
This article brought up a lot of really great points. The dangers of HF corn syrup have been well documented and known for years, but producers have trouble not putting it in EVERYTHING. While this may seem like a case of the evil corporation, look at it from their perspective. Corn syrup sweetens everything it is added to, and Americans tend to like even their plain foods surprisingly sweet. It is a preservative as well, and producers are desperate for effective preservatives these days. But best of all, it can be made, distributed, and used very easily. In order for producers to stop using so much corn syrup, they will need to find a workable substitute that is cost effective for them and has all the same benefits without the added dangers for us. It’s not likely something will be found. On the contrary, the most likely endgame for this problem is a culture change in how we look at food and how we eat. It may be a long time in coming, but when it does then producers will stop using so much HF corn syrup because they will see the market moving against it.

Anonymous
Using the information the article presents and doing a little bit of research on your own, it is very possible to cut out most of the high fructose corn syrup that you would otherwise have in your diet. I know from personal experience! The key is to avoid processed food whenever possible. Look across the handy list that the article includes at the end and see if you notice any trends. Almost all the foods are heavily processed and packaged. Some of the items are, granted, a little surprising, such as ketchup and yogurt. But I promise that if you find the healthy section of your store and look for natural products, you can find ketchup, yogurt, granola bars, and other types of food products without these issues. For the rest, just avoid packaged soups, sauces, and other foods as much as possible. When you get into a routine, making substitutions with your own cooking can become very easy, and much healthier for you. You’d be surprised what you can do with a little honey, vinegar, and spices of your own. Once the habit builds, you’ll wonder how you ever ate so much corn syrup in the first place.

Kathy Faust
I began cutting high fructose corn syrup from my diet a few years ago and let me tell you, it’s impossible to avoid it all together, especially if you eat out. However, I am so happy that more and more companies are trying to cut HFCS from their products. In most cases, you can now find at least one brand of the product you need that is HFCS-free. Unfortunately, there are also those products where you have to decide if it’s worth the consumption of HFCS because there are no alternatives made with real sugar.

While many people try to say that high fructose corn syrup is the same as sugar, they’re wrong. There is information that shows how high fructose corn syrup kills the part of the brain that tells you you’re full, which I’m sure many snack food companies just love. It also makes you wonder if HFCS is more linked to obesity than we’re lead to believe. Look at the time period when the sweetener started to be used in large quantities and how the obesity levels rose. Regardless of what the government wants us to believe, I choose to avoid this sweetener as much as possible.

Kathy Faust
I live right in the middle of corn country. Let me tell you, it isn’t really the place you want to be right now. The farmers are struggling, but only because they have gotten so used to making vast profits while not having to do a lot of manual labor. We made it too easy for them with all the equipment and chemicals there is that they can use to do their farming. I hate to say it, but when it comes to large farms, quality does not mean anything any more. They do not appreciate and love the land like they used to and the product has turned to nothing but numbers. And sadly, corn is one of the worst victims. They put it or some derivative of it in just about everything now and all the health benefits that it could have are lost.

Let me put it like this: we have a saying about “knee high by the 4th of July” in reference to the crops. Right now their corn is about waste high and we have had very little rain. That is not natural. I try to do everything I can to avoid buying anything that has any kind of corn product in it just because of that. Only man could take a perfectly natural and healthy item and turn it to poison.

Anonymous
Everyone should be this educated about high fructose corn syrup. This article was very informative. I had been aware of some of the concerns regarding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for quite some time, but was not aware of the extent of the problem. The author correctly points out that this substance is both a preservative and a sweetener, which is produced through a process which changes glucose into fructose in cornstarch. I suppose the actual process is very technical, but this leads to a number of serious health risks and problems.

One of the first questions the author explores is whether or not HFCS contributes to obesity. I was also happy to see that the author did not place the entire blame for the current obesity epidemic at the feet of HFCS, like many others have done in the past. It was a balanced treatment, and the fact that this substance is used in darn near everything was not overlooked. In fact, that may be the problem.

Given these facts, the real problem is over consumption. Eating too much HFCS can lead the body to have a resistance for certain natural proteins which help to control appetite. This leads to a feeling of always being hungry.

Just Wrong
These companies are litteraly killing us due to the lifestyle change in the US. And come on it’s not just a preservative. It makes the corn taste better the beets taste sweeter and we want more. Can’t we put those sugars to more good use like the country in South America (forgot which ones) that uses sugar cane to power their cars after conversion? They are totaly independent of oil.

Anonymous
The author actually made a really good point that I think bears mentioning. Since this substance is in almost every type of commercially available food product, the only real way to make meaningful cuts in our consumption of HFCS is to aim for zero intake. This way, there will likely be small amounts which we eat that are just truly unavoidable. This can be classified as a moderate amount.

All of this leads to the question of how shall we achieve the goal of zero intake of HFCS. The first and most obvious step we can all take is to become label readers. We should also educate ourselves about hidden and unusual ingredients which are really just other forms (or names for) of HFCS. Another idea is to begin eating more natural foods. There is no reason why we should all be held hostage to the prepared food lobby. Eating more fruits, vegetables, natural grains, etc… can only help our health. It may be a bit more expensive buying natural foods. It will take more time in terms of cooking and preparation. But after all, I certainly think my health is worth these extra costs.

Kathy Faust
A while back I was having some shooting pains in my left arm. I was also getting dizzy and feeling some numbness in my hands. I have a vitamin D deficiency, so I thought that might be part of the problem. The pains in my arm really scared me though and since I do have a son to raise, I thought it best to go to the doctor. As it turns out, my cholesterol was really high. But my doc knows I don’t like medications so she helped me figure out how to eat healthier.

High fructose corn syrup was one of the first things I cut out of my diet. There is nothing healthy about it at all. Whether or not it caused high cholesterol wasn’t even the concern. It causes weight gain and I needed to get back to a healthy weight to improve my cholesterol. I noticed a difference right away.

I actually got full when I ate a meal because I didn’t eat chemicals like this with it. If I did feel like a snack late at night, I made a smoothie with fresh fruits and vegetables (and let me just say that carrots in the blender don’t work as well as you might imagine). I lost 9 pounds in a week and felt great. I just thought I would share that because cutting out things like this isn’t as hard as you might imagine it to be. It’s just a matter of breaking bad habits.

Kathy Faust
I am so thankful that we live in a time that allows us to have access to so much information. And I thanks the author for putting this information together for us. I am totally stunned by all the things that high fructose corn syrup is found in. I most especially never would have thought it would be found in canned vegetables.

Greed really does rule this world. There is no reason at all for any kind of sugar to be put in canned vegetables. In fact. I am at the point where I have started growing my own vegetables anyhow and only hope to keep increasing the volume of what I grow. I did this before learning about high fructose corn syrup, but I did it for similar reasons. I just don’t like the idea of fertilizers and pesticides in my food. I also have no wish at all to perpetuate the growth of large corporations who don’t mind poisoning us just as long as they get to show a profit. No thanks. I will just make every attempt I can to be as self-sufficient as I can. It’s just sad that all I want to do is feed my family healthy food and I can’t even do that using store bought vegetables.

Anonymous
I enjoyed the fact that this article and the author were not afraid to examine several of the claims that have been made regarding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Two of the main ones which captured my attention immediately were whether or not this substance contributes to diabetes and how to avoid ingesting so much HFCS.

The author points out that HFCS likely does not directly contribute to diabetes. The reasoning for this is that diabetics are measuring their glucose level, which is a different type of blood sugar than fructose. HFCS actually operates using different metabolic pathways. However, the author also correctly points out the fact that the ultimate result of eating so many foods with HFCS is that it leads to overeating. The very act of overeating has been shown in study after study to increase the risk of diabetes. In fact, overeating may be the most common way that people develop diabetes.

Avoid HFCS actually involves a serious commitment and lifestyle change. The author points out that by using smarter personal shopping techniques we can aim to eliminate this from our diets altogether.

Anonymous
Unfortunately, the article is spot on. It can be very difficult to avoid all the products that include high fructose corn syrup without letting some slip in by accident. It is included in so many foods, it would be interesting to see what the effects on the obesity crisis would be if all corn syrup in products was removed – or at least the corn syrup that could be considered unnecessary. Since it is difficult to find reports on how much corn syrup works as a “moderate” amount, my guess would be that most of it is unnecessary, from a diet perspective, anyway. Of course, there is tremendous pressure on legislative bodies to NOT make laws limiting their use of corn syrup. Fortunately as the market continues to respond, we will continue seeing lots of alternatives in stores that we can buy, not just in health food stores but in the average grocery store as well. Hopefully, in time the laws themselves will also catch up and we will be able to fight obesity by removing one of its most powerful weapons. The victory will be well worth it!

Anonymous
Thanks for writing up this article, I couldn’t agree more that not only is HFCS a health hazard, it’s one of the primary contributors to the obesity problem the U.S. currently faces.

My question is, how do we get our hands on soda that has real sugar in it? I know Pepsi had a “Throwback” line for a limited release that had real cane sugar, but I’m having trouble finding it.

treehugger
Try finding a local Mexican grocery store (or other ethnic cuisine shop) and ask if they have imported Coca Cola. Our local Mexican grocery store has Mexican Coke, which is made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.
Anonymous
Jarritos do not have HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) and is a great Mexican alternative to American soft drinks that contain a lot of HFCS. You can find it at many international and latin markets throughout the United States as well as in Latin America.

Anonymous
HFCS is no more or less of a health hazard than white table sugar. It’s danger lies in overconsumption…just like table sugar.

So here’s a better question:

What section of the regular grocery do we have to go to in order to find natural foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products that are not loaded with the ANY added sugar.

Never mind the choice between HFCS and cane sugar…how about the choice between soda and water?

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