September 23, 2008

High Fructose Corn Syrup -- better than sugar?

Many of you have probably seen recent ads or commercials about high fructose corn syrup and how it is natural and OK in moderation. Don’t be mislead by these claims, as it is worse for you than table sugar.

Dr. Mercola recently posted an article about high fructose corn syrup (a modified sugar) on his health Web site Here is an excerpt:
The Corn Refiners Association launched a $20 – 30 million marketing and public relations campaign trying to convince people that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a healthy alternative to sugar. And why has HFCS replaced cane or beet sugar? Because it is significantly cheaper than sugar.

Scientists have linked HFCS to the rampant epidemics of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in the U.S., and medical researchers have pinpointed various other health dangers associated with the consumption of HFCS compared to regular sugar.

And to make matters worse, HFCS is almost always made from genetically modified corn, which is filled with its own well documented side effects and health concerns.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that HFCS accounts for roughly 41 percent of all caloric sweeteners consumed in the U.S.

Although HFCS is often found in pop, it is not the only source of HFCS (though they represent one of the main ones). This dangerous sweetener is also in many processed foods and fruit juices, so to avoid it you need to focus your diet on whole foods and, if you do purchase packaged foods, become an avid label reader.

The best and safest sweetener would be the herb Stevia, which you can find at your local health food store. (For more information about Stevia, e-mail Dan).

While these ads say that HFCS "contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients." Literally, that's true, but HFCS is itself an "artificial or synthetic" ingredient made in a lab. You could not manufacture it in your kitchen. Honey is "natural," the bees make it and all we do is bottle it. Maple syrup is "natural," the trees make it and all we do is boil it down and bottle it. Even beet and cane sugar are "natural" in much the same way. The farther we move away from these basic sweeteners, the closer we get to laboratory conditions.

All in all, the less sugar or sweeteners in your diet the better. But be extra careful to stay away from high fructose corn syrup. And don't fall for these misleading ads.

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