The not so sweet surprise

I just can’t watch this commercial enough. It’s for High Fructose Corn Syrup, from the Corn Growers Association. It’s brilliant. Insidious and misleading, but brilliant. It’s not necessarily promoting HFCS, but rather, defending it. And the brilliant part is it defends it simply by calling out Americans on their own lack of knowledge about HFCS. So just in case you get stuck talking to a birthday party host in a questionably fashionable top, let me arm you with the facts.

Chances are you eat foods that contain high fructose corn syrup on a regular basis. It makes up nearly half of the sweeteners used in processed foods and is found in everything from sodas, fruit juice, crackers, cereal and even ketchup. Ketchup!

Big food companies LOVE HFCS not only because it is 6 times as sweet as cane sugar, but also, you guessed it, it is cheap! (genetically modified corn crops are heavily subsidized by our government as opposed to something that’s actually good for us. Don’t get me started.)

For the record, in 1983, the FDA granted high-fructose corn syrup as “generally recognized as safe” for foods and beverages.

Hmmmm… didn’t they say they same thing about cigarettes?

Here’s the trouble: According to many experts, our bodies process high-fructose differently from other sugars and when processed in our liver, HCS triggers our triglycerides putting us at risk for stroke or heart disease. That doesn’t strike me as “safe,” general or otherwise. Further, I believe that HFCS plays a major role in our obesity crisis today. Scientists have shown that the sweetener doesn’t send the same “I’m full” signal to the brain as when we consume sugar. So you can eat, and eat, and eat and never really feel satiated. This continues the cycle of our nation, and especially our kids, being over-fed and undernourished.

Try this experiment – next time you go to the market try to find something that does NOT contain HFCS. If you’re buying anything that’s processed, it’s next to impossible. That’s the real not so sweet surprise.

I’ve always preached “everything in moderation” but with the ubiquitous presence of HFCS (it’s in nearly ¾ of all processed foods) moderation is kind of tough. You’re better off sticking with the fresh, local, organic and whole foods.

And good luck at those birthday parties.

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