Saturday, September 10, 2011

0 High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and why to avoid it

I just read a finance article the other day saying that grocery prices are going up again due to shortages of wheat and corn. Bread, cereal, soda, pet food and most preprocessed foods prices are on the rise. One of the reasons why is because so much of the corn grown today is used for ethanol, so when there is a shortage it directly effects the prices of processed foods which are loaded with corn byproducts. In fact the article recommended cooking your foods from raw materials to save money! Wow, not only can you eat healthier but now you can save even more money too!

If you start reading labels you will notice that one ingredient is in nearly everything on the shelves of your local grocery store – High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Sometimes it doesn't matter if the item is sweet or salty, it's in there. Sometimes even if what you're eating is naturally sweet, it's in there. Sometimes it's added even if they've already added sugar or regular corn syrup too. There's really no reason for this. So much of processed food is just clever rearrangements of corn (here are just a few examples of the additives that are derived from corn: cellulose, saccharin, polydextrose, xanthan gum, maltodextrin, and HFCS. Look for those ingredients on processed foods and avoid them!

The “food industry” and the government are telling you that HFCS is no different than sugar, in fact the “Corn Refiners Association” is lobbying the government to change the name to “Corn Sugar” to make people think that it's a healthy alternative to real sugar. While eating a lot of sugar isn't good for anyone, I think that eating real sugar in my food is better for me than eating HFCS and it tastes better too.

Why? Because HFCS is made by mixing corn syrups, corn starch and other ingredients together and then undergoing a process to makes the fructose content higher, which makes it sweeter. HFCS also has at least one genetically modified enzyme in it too. Food made in a lab... YUCK.

Studies have shown that HFCS in soda makes it richer in harmful carbonyl compounds. According to one study1, carbonyl compounds are elevated in people with diabetes and are blamed for causing diabetic complications such as foot ulcers, eye and nerve damage. Another study2 concluded that foods with increased fructose “produced significantly higher fasting plasma triacylglycerol values than did the glucose diet in men” and “if plasma triacylglycerols are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, then diets high in fructose may be undesirable”... sounds like something I want to avoid. Not to beat a dead horse but, according to an article in the SF Chronicle3, “The body processes the fructose in HFCS differently than it does in old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.” Sounds like enough information to make me want to avoid it, if possible.  If you're buying processed food, remember to read the labels, avoid HFCS and any product with more than 5 ingredients or ingredients that you can't pronounce.

1 A study by Dr. Chi-Tang Ho, Rutgers University Food Science Dept.
2 A study by Allocca and Selmi (2010)
3 San Francisco Chronicle, February 18, 2004

Oatmeal Cookies
¾ c flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ c butter
½ c light brown sugar
½ c sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ c quick cooking oats
½ c chopped pecans or walnuts

In a bowl sift together flour, salt, baking soda. In another bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla, mix in dry ingredients, oats and nuts. Divide dough in half, turn out onto a lightly floured board and shape into 2 rolls about 10” long and 1 ½” in diameter. Wrap in plastic and chill well. Preheat oven to 375, slice rolls 1/4” thick and arrange 2” apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until tan. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a plate to cool completely.

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