High fructose corn syrup is commonly used in place of sugar in processed foods in the USA. In fact, the average American eats an astounding 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year. American subsidies and tariffs have resulted in corn being a much more economical sweetener than sugar–a trend that is not seen in other parts of the world. Now that high fructose corn syrup is being added to an increasing variety of foods (breads, cereals, soft drinks, and condiments); some people are looking for ways to avoid it.
If you eat any processed foods, you probably eat too much high fructose corn syrup. But, the problem is that in today’s culture, almost everything that you eat is processed. The majority of foods sold at any supermarket are processed at a plant before they are shipped out. This means that you probably have too much high fructose corn syrup in your diet and high fructose corn syrup can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, coronary disease and even diabetes. Because of this, it’s a good idea for you to limit to amount of high fructose corn syrup that you ingest everyday. Try these ways to avoid high fructose corn syrup in the future.
Be clear about your reasons for avoiding high fructose corn syrup. Reasons cited for avoiding it are:
- There are increasing concerns about the politics surrounding the economics of corn production (subsidies, tariffs, and regulations) as well as the effects of intensive corn agriculture on the environment.
- The corn from which high fructose corn syrup is derived may be genetically modified.
- Beverages containing high fructose corn syrup have high levels of reactive carbonyls which are linked with cell and tissue damage that leads to diabetes, although there is no evidence so far that high fructose corn syrup consumption directly leads to diabetes. No significant metabolic differences exist between high fructose corn syrup and regular sugar.
- Some people are allergic to products derived from corn.
- Some people believe that sugar satiates, or creates the feeling of “full”, faster than HFCS, which, if true, would likely lead to reduced caloric consumption.
- Although the enzymatic process used to create high fructose corn syrup is a naturally occurring process, it is an additional processing step that sugar refined from beets does not undergo. Some people prefer to avoid additionally processed foods and ingredients as much as possible.
- Some argue that sugar simply tastes better than high fructose corn syrup.
Understand what “natural” or “organic” means on labels with regard to HFCS. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the use of the word “natural”. Foods and beverages can be labeled as “natural” even though they contain high fructose corn syrup, because fructose is a naturally occurring sugar. The word “organic” is heavily regulated, and basically, only foods labeled as 100% organic can be assumed to be HFCS-free.
Read food labels. It’s nearly impossible to avoid eating all processed foods. And that’s okay. You just need to be aware of the foods that contain high fructose corn syrup. Try to limit how often you eat them. Certain types of bread contain high fructose corn syrup, so try and pick one that doesn’t.
- Read more nutritional labels to find out how much high fructose corn syrup is contained in many of the foods you eat. Then, see if you can substitute better foods to limit the amount of high fructose corn syrup that you ingest.
Lower your sweetener consumption altogether. It’s been suggested that the supposed link between high fructose corn syrup and obesity is not due to the high fructose corn syrup itself, but to the increasing consumption of sweeteners in general, especially soft drinks. In fact, where the fructose comes from doesn’t seem to matter. The fructose found in fruits could be just as bad as that added to soft drinks. The USDA recommends that a person with a 2000 calorie, balanced diet should consume no more than 32 g (8 tsp) of added sugar per day. Here are some sweet foods and the percentage of the daily recommended amount of sweeteners they provide:
- Serving of Kellogg’s Marshmallow Blasted Fruit Loops – 40%
- Cup of regular ice cream – 60%
- Typical cup of fruit yogurt – 70%
- Burger King’s Cini-minis with icing – 95%
- Quarter-cup of pancake syrup – 103%
- 12-ounce Pepsi – 103%
- Hostess Lemon Fruit Pie – 115%
- Large McDonald’s Shake – 120%
- Cinnabon – 123%
- Large Mr. Misty Slush at Dairy Queen – 280%
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Obviously, high fructose corn syrup is not a natural source of sugar. So, anytime you eat something that’s literally grown straight out of the earth, you can be sure you’re not getting any high fructose corn syrup in your diet.
- Additionally, most fruits and vegetables contain natural sugar so you’ll still get the energy that sugar provides without all the harmful side effects.
Buy fresh produce and learn to cook it. The real problem is too much refined and processed food, not any one particular ingredient.
Avoid fast food. Fast food is literally loaded with high fructose corn syrup. So, while it may be tempting to pull in for a quick burger, you should avoid eating fast food regularly to limit your high fructose corn syrup intake.
Avoid canned or bottled beverages. Soft drinks, sports drinks, lemonade, iced tea, and almost every sweet drink you can think of contains high fructose corn syrup.
- Buy from small bottlers who use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Some smaller brands, such as Jones Soda and Dublin Dr. Pepper, have switched to pure cane sugar.
- Check the Passover section of your supermarket. Some soda companies produce a sugar/sucrose-based version of their products around Passover for Jews who are restricted by custom from eating corn during this time. Coca-Cola produces a version of Coke without corn syrup that can be identified by a yellow cap and is considered by some to taste better than Coke Zero, which is also free of corn syrup but contains artificial sweeteners, not sugar.
- Buy soft drinksfrom across the border. If you must have your fix of certain soda brands and you happen to live near Canada or Mexico, look into buying in bulk from those countries, which use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.