Guest blogger Leanne Ely, CNC: Too much of a good thing is never a good thing. This rings true when it comes to what we eat and especially true when it comes to corn. Our diets are inundated with it, and the biggest offender is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In fact, the word on the street about this stuff is so bad they're trying to change their name to "corn sugar." We're not fooled, though, are we?
So what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to HFCS? Princeton University did a study which evaluated the effects of giving rats the same amount of calories in sugar vs. HFCS, and the rats given HFCS gained more weight than their control group, which was fed cane sugar. Consider the following:
- Genetically modified enzymes are used in the conversion of cornstarch into fructose and glucose. These enzymes can pose a health hazard.
- HFCS is twice as sweet as sugar, while having no useful nutritional value. It contains no vitamins or minerals, and your body has to use its own microelements to even digest it. This can actually cause premature aging.
- HFCS can elevate cholesterol levels along with scarring the walls of your arteries. It takes extra cholesterol to heal the scarring, which leads to plaque forming and blocking the arteries.
- White blood cells can be slowed by HFCS, which causes the immune system to also respond more slowly.
- The blood levels of chromium can be lowered by HFCS. Chromium levels that get too low can increase the chance of developing diabetes.
- It interferes with the amount of insulin the pancreas releases. Insulin helps your body understand when it has eaten enough food. If your pancreas isn't producing enough insulin, you may eat a lot more food than you need. When done too many times, this can lead to obesity.
The fact that HFCS can be found in almost everything is more scary than the latest Stephen King novel. Some ways to avoid HFCS are to:
- Stop drinking soda.
- Read labels.
- Avoid fast foods.
- Avoid highly processed foods.
- Avoid many fruit juices.
- Avoid many "diet" foods.
- Did I mention "Read labels"?
- Cook your own food.
- Avoid the packaged stuff.
So now that you know better, you can choose better. There is good news: More and more whole-foods manufacturers are starting to realize how truly bad HFCS is. If we as consumers stop buying the items that contain HCFS, perhaps its use will go the way of the dinosaur.
The best place for you to make a difference and get this stuff out of your food is by simply not buying products that contain it. Remember: We vote with our wallets, and that is how we effect change.
Leanne Ely is the New York Times bestselling author of "Body Clutter" and the "Saving Dinner" series. Her "Dinner Diva" syndicated column appears in 250 newspapers nationwide. Learn how to cook great and save significant money with the Dinner Diva's menus, recipes and shopping lists at www.savingdinner.com.