Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What’s Up, Sugar?

What happened to food being sweetened with plain old sugar? Why is it that everything from yogurt to bread is sweetened with High-fructose corn syrup (commonly known as HFCS in our household) And what is HFCS?

High fructose corn syrup is common sweetener and preservative. HFCS is made by changing the sugar in cornstarch to fructose — another form of sugar. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose. Because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar, high-fructose corn syrup has become a popular ingredient in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and other processed foods.

In fact, when I started reading food labels I found that HFCS was in a majority of the foods I purchased. It is in everything from soft drinks to yogurt to cookies. It also lurks in unexpected places, like crackers, bread, salad dressing and canned soup. It has made me walk down the aisles in grocery stores yelling, “Why are they trying to poison my kids?” granting many strange looks from fellow shoppers. Yes I am overdramatizing but you get the point.

So why is it bad? Well there is as always a debate on whether a product is bad for you or not. But my philosophy is that if it isn’t found naturally in nature and has been chemically processed, it can’t be that great. Research has shown that HFCS goes directly to the liver, releasing enzymes that instruct the body to then store fat. This may elevate fat levels in the blood and elevate cholesterol. This fake fructose may slow fat burning and cause weight gain, may inhibit our natural ability to feel full and therefore may cause us to eat even more.

So, why not return to a more natural way of eating? Only buy products that are sweetened naturally with sugar, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup and other ingredients found only in nature.

**Again, I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, just a fellow eater**

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