Sparkly & Slimming….a Weight Loss Blog

Samantha's journey to slim down, while remaining sparkly!

HFCS – Friend or Foe?

on October 22, 2010

It’s Friday – let’s have a good old-fashioned debate! 🙂

Oh but first…I know I said back in Weighty Decisions that I wasn’t weighing in until Nov 1st…but I weighed in this morning. Guess what? I dropped SEVEN POUNDS! Yay!!! So, I’m down to 353. I feel super proud of that weight-loss especially coming off a very tough week emotionally. Just goes to show, I CAN kick-ass at weight-loss even when life gets crazy.

Now….onto the debate! 🙂

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about High- Fructose Corn Syrup (Corn Sugar/Glucose/fructose syrup or Maize syrup as it may also be called) and there seems to be two clearly divided schools of thought:

HFCS is the devil and needs to be abolished from your diet.

HFCS is made from corn, which is natural and therefore fine.

I mentioned before that I enjoy reading diet books – I like to see if there is new, breaking information out there that will quickly solve the “Why am I fat?” riddle. In an effort to stay up to date I recently read “Master Your Metabolism” by Jillian Michaels. I love her DVDs (more on why 30 Day Shred might kill me later…) but this was the first book I had read. She is very sciencey – a bit over my head at times, but she has one big point in the book that has stuck with me weeks after reading the chapter: High fructose corn syrup (HFCS for short)  is in EVERYTHING….and I mean EVERY-THING and it’s awful for you! Barbecue sauce, ketchup, Crackin’ Oats (which I loved in my Greek yogurt!), RICE KRISPIES! How has it been snuck into so many foods without our knowledge? Is it directly linked to weight gain? I knew it was in soda (which I don’t drink) and “juice drinks” – the ones with funky colors and no actual fruit. But, RICE KRISPIES?! For the love of Pop! How could Snap and Crackle let that kind of crap into their cereal? I’m heart broken!

There is a commercial I’ve seen frequently about how “red drink” is actually good for you because it’s made from corn:

If you haven’t seen it, I highly encourage you to watch it and then consider this….

Just because you call something “all-natural” does it really mean it’s all natural? I’m not so sure….which is why I’m yapping about this today. “In September 2008, the Corn Refiners Association[63] launched a series of United States television advertisements that stated that HFCS “is made from corn”, “is natural” (changed from previously stated “doesn’t have artificial ingredients“), “has the same calories as sugar or honey“, “is nutritionally the same as sugar”, and “is fine in moderation“, in the hopes of keeping consumers from avoiding HFCS products.” (says the almighty oracle Wikipedia about this commercial).

I’m not so sure I’m not buying it!

Wikipedia also says: “HFCS comprises any of a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. In the United States, consumer foods and products typically use high-fructose corn syrup as a sugar substitute. In the United States, it has become very common in processed foods and beverages, including breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. Some allege that HFCS is in itself more detrimental to health than table sugar (sucrose); others claim that the low-cost of HFCS encourages overconsumption of sugars.”

SOUP? Oh yes, it’s in SOUP! Yesterday I had a can of “Soup at Hand – Creamy Tomato Parmesan Bisque” and guess what? There it was on the label, ingredient # 3. If you didn’t know, ingredients are listed on a label in order of quantity. So, the soup is composed primarily of water, then tomato puree, then HFCS…?! WHY IS THERE SUGAR IN MY SOUP?! I’m honestly at a lost.

(note: I painted my new au natural nails- pretty eh? Ok ok – back to HFCS!)

“Red drink”, candy, processed sugary junk? Yup – I understand why it’s there. I don’t understand why it would be in a savory item like soup.  A friend of mine pointed out that it’s even in *bread crumbs* – hold up! Why do my bread crumbs need to be sweet?! Is it also acting a preservative? I think I need to do a lot more research on this.

I read an article sent to me by a friend and it had a great except I want to add in:

The question is why did it make us so fat. Is it simply the Big Gulp syndrome — that we’re eating too many empty calories in ever-increasing portion sizes? Or does the fructose in all that corn syrup do something more insidious — literally short-wire our metabolism and force us to gain weight?

The debate can divide a group of nutritional researchers almost as fast as whether the low-carb craze is fact or fad.

Loading high fructose corn syrup into increasingly larger portions of soda and processed food has packed more calories into us and more money into food processing companies, say nutritionists and food activists. But some health experts argue that the issue is bigger than mere calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does 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.

The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat.” You can read the rest of the article here.

So, is HFCS the reason why I’m fat??

Is it possible to avoid it completely?

Do you avoid it in your own diet?

Do you read labels of everything you eat?

Sound off peeps!



11 responses to “HFCS – Friend or Foe?

  1. ACL says:

    My understanding of why HFCS is so much more detrimental than say, sugar, is the type of sweetness it provides. I.E. the flavor in HFCS is not as strong as the same amount of sugar. As a result they need to put twice as much HFCS in something to get the same degree of sweetness. So, pound for pound HFCS and Sugar are comparable- but you are not eating the same amount in the same product when they replace sugar with HFCS.
    Now, this could all come from propaganda from the people who blame HFCS for everything from weight gain to cancer, but I’d buy it.

  2. Curt says:

    After the heart issues I’ve started reading labels more carefully and yeah HFCS is in just about everything. HFCS is also totally UNNATURAL its about as far from natural as can be. It is in fact pretty much an “artificial sweetener”.
    So how to avoid it? Make more of your own food. Its convenience foods that make us fat. Yeah I know its a PITA but its the convenience thats the killer, we all have way to much access to too much food for too little labor.

    Anyway I think the truth of the matter is HFCS in moderation probably won’t hurt you, lets face that all of us have eaten a helluva lot of it. The problem is how do you moderate your intake?

    Okay one politiciy bit, if we ended ALL corn subsidies the price of all corn would rise (especially with the EPA mandating 15% ethanol by 2012) which would make HFCS more expensive which would probably result in it being removed from most products as sugar becomes cheaper that HFCS…. Doesn’t solve the real problem though, we’ll just replace HFCS with sugar.

  3. (from Facebook) – I felt this one was important enough to add here.

    Jeff Ruscio (work friend and fighter against HFCS!)

    In fear of coming off like a preaching A-hole, I apologize in advance as it is not my intention….this topic is just beyond maddening, but incredibly important….kudos to bringing it up as a lot of people are unaware of the facts.

    For the …most part, HFCS = empty calories. It’s man-made sugar. The more you take in, the more your body cannot process and thus turns into fat.

    On The Biggest Loser, it was either Bob or Jillian that warned “do not drink your calories” – that’s always stuck with me.

    There’s a Facebook group called “The Ban of High Fructose Corn Syrup in the U.S.” > HFCS is already banned in the UK – enough said. And don’t buy into this “Corn Sugar” BS.

    Just the other night I looked at the label of my Market Basket branded BREAD CRUMBS. The list is literally about 40 ingredients….which includes HFCS.

    Your next topic for debate should be “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” (aka Trans Fat) – that’s another sneaky (and scary) ingredient in tons of food.

    What it all comes down to is money….and all of these mentioned ingredients are cheap alternatives to the more “expensive” natural ingredients.

  4. Tricia LeVangie says:

    Several years ago my husband found out he was a diabetic and had EXTREMELY high cholesterol. I pulled out my biochemistry books from college to see what I could learn and found out that fat metabolism and sugar metabolism are intertwined and do involve the liver. So it makes sense to think that HFCS is affecting both. So as a result we are turning into a country of fat diabetics. So the farmers need to make money and then we need to spend more money on healthcare. It’s scary. Add to that hormones and insecticides and it just makes you want to just drink water. (wait, is your water safe?)

  5. Kelly says:

    Fist off- 7 pounds! Good for you, high fives! Give yourself a hug for me and keep it up, you’re doing awesome!

    Two things:
    1. Read the book “Food, Inc” then watch the documentary. It covers all kinds of crazy stuff around why corn has ruined the food industry.
    2. Buy organic…yes, it costs more but will not contain HFCS or any products grown with GMO seeds.

    Not only is HFCS bad but the corn its made from is grown from genetically modified seeds. These seeds have been modified to resist RoundUP- yes the weed killer! So if you want avoid to eating food grown from a seeds with chemicals, go organic, go to the farmers market, find a farm and buy your food locally!

    Also, check which state you live in, you could be buying meat products made from cloned animals and not even know it. You think I’m joking right? Think again…CA just prevented a bill from passing that would require meat products to be labeled if they contained cloned animal product. Who would prevent such a bill from passing? Lobbyists from the corn industry…go figure. Peel the onion back and you’ll be disgusted with what you find!

    Based on their report, the FDA concluded there is no difference between food produced from animals bred conventionally or those who were cloned and, therefore, decided no labeling was needed.

    Their “no-labeling required” stance is identical to their stance on genetically engineered foods. For example, any food labels that claim that the food has not been genetically engineered must also include a statement that no difference has been found between non-genetically engineered food or from that which has been genetically engineered. A similar qualifying statement is expected to be required for any product that makes a “not cloned” claim.

    Check out:

    There’s my hippy-Cali-inspired rant!

  6. Memie says:

    Now that’s confusing. But congratulations on your weight loss.

  7. Denise Carr says:

    Wow, and you look so great too, Honey, Your such an inspiration for us . Yes, !!High Fructose is the pitts, I found out more this year when My little grandson, Jack starting getting sick after he consumed anything with this. Amazing how much sabotage is out there, for all of us, but it is the wise person that learns, and teaches others. thanks for the blog!!! And you did a superb job with your dance of wings, beautiful, my photos came out to dark. !! by the way.

  8. Cecilia says:

    I’m still finishing up “Omnivores Dilemma” and it’s been fascinating to find out that Corn is even in the meat we eat! A lot of the animals are fed corn, since it’s grown all over the country…but a lot of those animals don’t even *naturally* eat corn! But they’re given corn because it makes them fatter….

    That was definitely something to think about in terms of the HFCS in our foods.

  9. Shannon says:

    I avoid HFCS most of the time. I check for it in ingredients lists, like if I’m in the cafeteria and about to buy an iced tea or a yogurt. First, I think it gives a sickly sweet taste to the food, not a normal sweetness. Any time we mess with real sugars, our bodies do not react well (also artificial sweeteners confuse our bodies, so I avoid those too.) I just use regular raw sugar, say, in my coffee. The amount of calories in a teaspoon of sugar is negligible compared to the improvement it makes to coffee or iced tea.

    I love Agave Nectar lately for sweetening tea and even drinks (like a mojito). Not that you need to hear about more sources of sugar if you’re trying to cut calories.

  10. […] buying snacks that are pre-packaged, check out the ingredients CAREFULLY. Avoid anything with HFCS when possible. Avoid ingredients you can’t pronounce. Look for whole, natural things like raw […]

  11. SandyW says:

    I wonder if any of the corn refiners really drink that artificial red drink from their commercials–and give it to their children to drink? Or do you think they know how unhealthy it is, and avoid it?
    It seems “unAmerican” to advertise for others to drink an artificial red drink, when corn refiner lobbyists who made the ad would never touch the stuff.
    Thanks for this great article. Articles like this have inspired many Americans to really investigate their eating habits–and make healthier choices.

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