HFCS - The sweet and silent killer.
What is the one ingredient common amongst non diet sodas, juice beverages and other junky carbs that North Americans consume almost daily? It’s High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). While its name “high fructose” might imply that it is healthy (fructose comes from fruit), it is definitely anything but. Researchers are now saying that HFCS is even more unhealthy for humans than excess table sugar and salt, and its deceiving name is tricking parents into giving their children HFCS and eating it themselves.
So why is HFCS used in so many foods? HFCS is used by beverage companies and food processors because it is cheap to produce, HFCS is made from corn, not fruit. HFCS is the darling of the food industry because it is more stable in solution, meaning that products sweetened with HFCS have a longer shelf life than those sweetened with sucrose (table sugar made from fruit). Food companies are telling us that sucrose and HFCS are the same because they are both almost 50% fructose and 50% glucose, however, HFCS is missing one veryimportant thing- the chemical bond that links the fructose and glucose together, making the HFCS a smaller molecule than sucrose. These smaller molecules of sugar cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and then a rapid drop, leaving you feeling fatigued. (note: this does not mean that table sugar is healthy. The key is to eat everything in moderation. Table sugar is known to cause inflammation in the body)
Aside from being genetically modified, researchers are warning you to stay away from HFCS because they believe that HFCS increases blood fats (called triglycerides) more than the same amount of table sugar does. High triglycerides can lead to higher blood levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) and to lower blood levels of HDL (the good cholesterol). This is a double whammy that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. HFCS has also been linked to obesity because HFCS can impair the body’s ability to use minerals such as calcium and chromium- the minerals involved in sugar and fat metabolism. HFCS also doesn't trigger the release of the hormone leptin, which sends out the signal when you’ve eaten enough. This is why when you eat junk food you never truly feel satisfied and want to keep eating.
So what can you do to satisfy your sweet tooth without serving foods that contain a lot of sugars and HFCS?
- Offer a hot sip. Sipping a hot beverage is a time-tested way to suppress hunger pangs. Our personal favourite is hot water with lemon or organic herbal tea.
- Offer cinnamon. This sweet tasting spice makes insulin worse more efficiently to stabilize blood sugar levels and it even reduces cholesterol levels. Sprinkle a teaspoon on oatmeal or in a smoothie.
- Try fruit toppings. Unsweetened fruit is a tasty way to sweeten organic yogurt or top whole wheat or gluten free pancakes and waffles.
For more information, please refer to The Healthiest Kid in the Neighbourhood by William Sears, M.D.