I was having dinner with friends recently when the issue of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) came up as my habit of reading labels did not go unnoticed. Of course my dinner mates snickered when I said I wouldn’t eat this particular “food” due to its inclusion of HFCS, obviously knowing I was on my usual rant about unhealthy foods and practices.
So I decided to outline here the reasons for my concern with this particularly evil and dangerous ingredient.
HFCS is a man-made ingredient manufactured from corn (most corn produced in this country is genetically modified, another reason to avoid it.) It is found in soft drinks, ice cream, and a wide variety of processed foods. It has been well documented that HFCS became prevalent in processed foods at about the same time the obesity epidemic took off. A coincidence? Probably not since we know that it is an appetite stimulant and, unlike glucose which is naturally present in carbohydrates, does not stimulate release of leptin, the hormone responsible for appetite suppression. Obesity is linked to inflammation which triggers a host of diseases included heart disease and cancer.
HFCS also contributes to fatty liver, insulin resistance leading to diabetes, and elevated triglycerides (fats that are produced in the liver in response to excess calories and especially HFCS.) These effects contribute to heart disease, the leading cause of death in this country, seemingly enough of a reason to avoid this dangerous (and unnecessary) ingredient.
The solution? Live and eat “out of the box.” Avoid processed foods. If you must eat processed, take Michael Pollan’s advice and eat only those which limit the number of ingredients to 5. Better yet, quoting Michael “Don’t eat anything your great great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” And she surely wouldn’t recognize HFCS as food – our bodies don’t either. And so, even while I rarely eat processed foods of any type, I will continue to read those labels for evidence of toxic ingredients such as HFCS which even my grandmother wouldn’t recognize!
For more info and to add your voice to the ban of this unsafe additive, click on the photo above.