High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener used in products such as desserts and fruit juices. It is created by adding enzymes to corn syrup.
The reason why this chemical has received a bad reputation within the past few decades is that of its high concentration (at least 42%) of fructose, a sugar which tends to be stored as fat by the liver.
Americans have been consuming a high amount of added sweeteners in the past fifty years compared with the decades prior to that. This has been linked to higher rates of obesity and other health concerns.
HFCS in particular, according to research, has been linked with diseases ranging from health disease to type-2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, despite the findings suggested by the research, the FDA does not admit to any evidence regarding the connection between HFCS and the health effects it has been shown to cause.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 calories of sugar be consumed by men and 100 calories of sugar be consumed by women daily.
Given the amount of sugar already contained in a balanced diet (e.g. fruits, which contain a small but healthy amount of fructose), one should make efforts to limit one's daily sugar intake in order to ensure an overall healthy balance.
So, what are some ideas for approaching this issue?
Eliminate High Fructose Corn Syrup
The most extreme solution would be to ban HFCS from one’s diet completely. Fructose isn’t an essential nutrient by any means. It does contain calories, as it is a sugar (sugar, like starch and all carbohydrates, contains 4 calories per gram) but as mentioned previously, this tends to be stored into fat.
One might be surprised by the prevalence of HFCS. Some examples of products with HFCS include:
- Vitamin drinks
- Canned pasta
- Salad dressings
This is not to say that all syrups, salad dressings, etc. contain HFCS. To know whether a product contains HFCS, simply check the ingredients list usually located near the Nutrition Facts chart. This is perhaps the best way to ensure that one avoids HFCS in one’s diet.
Limit High Fructose Corn Syrup
Is there a particular brand of syrup that you just can't seem to dispense? Well, adding some syrup to your pancakes or waffles alone probably won't make you obese, but if you still want to keep some cherished products which you've discovered contain HFCS, then the key here would be to strive for balance.
As previously mentioned, men and women are recommended to get 150 and 100 calories from sugar daily, respectively.
This will require some inspection into one’s diet. Do you consume a lot of desserts? Do you often eat candy? Then you may have to limit or eliminate one of these habits if you’re going to keep that product with HFCS. It’s all about the daily sum of sugar.
After all, the research shows that long-term effects of high levels of HFCS consumption could lead to fat storage and negative impacts on cardiovascular health.
Maybe you don’t need that yogurt with HFCS labeled as one of its ingredients. Consider purchasing another brand of yogurt which doesn’t have HFCS, like Chobani, or you could perhaps replace it with another healthier snack, like seaweed or peanuts.
Raise Your Voice
You could contact the company of the product. You are the customer, after all, and if that company values the opinions of its consumers, then they probably would want to hear your feedback. You can tell them about your concerns with the HFCS included.
Nesquik once reduced the amount of artificial sugar in their Chocolate Powder after a number of mothers made complaints, and their chocolate mix now has less sugar!
If you are aiming at reducing fat and building muscle, then you may want to eliminate as many products as possible from your diet which contain HFCS, which has shown to increase levels of fat.
Otherwise, if you are just curious about the health effects of this added sugar, it is best to consume as little as possible, as it’s known to be correlated with diseases such as obesity with long-term high levels of consumption.
The author's advice: try to adhere to the guidelines of how much sugar to consume daily so as not to surpass it.
And, as always, everything in moderation.
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