The next time you are walking down the aisle at the grocery store, you should take a second to look at some of the ingredient lists. If you’re shopping in a traditional processed foods aisle I would bet that nearly every other product you pick up has high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in it. It is a rodent-like ingredient that has invaded our food supply! I have seen it most frequently in beverages, i.e. soda and “juices”….the juice gets me every time when you look at the beautiful fruity picture on the front and then flip it over and it has only 5% juice! I mean, come on, really? You’re only going to give me 5% of what could be 100% and then you are going to load it with HFCS? That’s fruit abuse if you ask me. Ha! The other area I notice a lot of HFCS on labels is the condiments area. Good luck finding ketchup or BBQ sauce that is HFCS free. I went to a grocery store by our house one night and to save some time on our meal. I wanted to grab a BBQ sauce instead of making one. Out of all the BBQ sauce they had on the shelf only one didn’t have HFCS!
So what you may be wondering is the dealio with HFCS? You have probably seen some ads on TV recently from the corporations that support and/or make this sugary goop stating it is the same as table sugar. If it was the same then why wouldn’t they just be using real and true sugar then? HFCS is a highly processed sweetener that is cheaper to use in products instead of cane or beet sugar. It is derived from corn which is, as I’m sure you are all aware, a highly cultivated crop in the US. There have been mixed reviews and research studies regarding this sweetener, but some have linked increased fat deposits in the abdominal cavity and increased blood triglyceride levels, which can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It has also been discussed that regular sugar passes through the digestive tract and can be more easily excreted, while HFCS is absorbed into the liver.
A study that was recently published by the Oregon Health & Science University found that regular glucose, when absorbed into the body, activates the “reward circuity” producing a satiety response. Fructose actually inhibited those responses in the brain, which blocked that satiation response, leaving people unsatisfied or still hungry. This brain response deactivation could lead to an increase in obesity and diabetes. Whichever side you stand on in the HFCS debate, it comes down to one thing, whichever type of sweetener you are consuming you could probably be consuming less. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans consume 156 pounds of added sugar in their diets yearly. That’s 31 five-pound bags per person.Yikes!
Ways to avoid that extra sugar in your daily meals and snacks:
-Stay away from sugary drinks, juices, and sodas. Try water with a splash of real 100% fruit juice for flavor, or one of your favorite teas on ice. You can add any fruit wedge to your water as well to let that tasty flavor soak in!
-Read cereal and granola packaging carefully. It can be full of hidden sugar, or HFCS for that matter.
-Stick to the outer edge of the grocery store where there are more whole foods. Packaged foods, cookies, and microwaveable dishes can be full of sugar because of their heavier processing.
-Snack on whole fruits, veggies, cheese, yogurt, or whole grain crackers during the day instead of candies, cookies, or baked goods.
These are just a few ways you can cut back on unwanted sugar in your diet. It goes back to the old saying, “everything in moderation”. Sugar can be our friend, we just need to know when we are consuming it and how much we are having on a daily basis. When I am looking to sweeten something up I jump between a few sugary options: unrefined cane sugar, raw honey (I LOVE honey), real maple syrup, and stevia. In some baking recipes I will cut back on the sugar by adding plain unsweetened applesauce. It gives it a sweet kick, while adding moisture to whatever it is you are making. YUM!
Any tricks you use to cut back on sugar, but still keep life sweet?
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