Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup good for you? The debate rages on...

I happened to switch on the TV last Thursday around the time of ABC’s nightly news programme. Under normal circumstances, I would have switched to a recorded program or to another channel, but the story being featured was on the deleterious effects of Fructose on our body. It turns out that the food industry has been lying to us, repeatedly; imagine my shock and horror! Even food dubbed healthy is full of fructose – probiotics, fruit juice, yoghurt, Special-K; the list is endless. Unlike sucrose, fructose tampers with the body’s Leptin production , which results in the lack of appetite regulation (we continue to feel hungry even after our body has received the necessary nutrients).

Of course, the Corn Growers lobby in Washington was also mentioned. Corn is pure starch, and it is the most abundant crop in America; some Corn in my food is to be expected. Was it really *some* thought? I had to know exactly how prevalent the grain was though, so I conducted a small “Corn” experiment this weekend at the grocery stores I frequent. I have a list of maybe 20 items I buy on a regular basis – some from Safeway but most from Trader Joe’s. I went down my list and read through the ingredients of the processed foods (including the unfrozen kind) - mostly juice, yoghurt, cereal, veggie patties, peanut butter pretzels, etc. It’s hard to get exact amounts of individual ingredients, so I just put a check against items that contained Corn or Fructose on the list; my findings were eye-opening!

Regardless of provenance and seller, about 75% of all processed food I purchase contain corn in one form or another (syrup, powder or whole). Fructose came in at a slightly lower 54%, the remaining 46% contained sugar. You should know this – I am a careful, anal even, shopper and read the ingredients before buying anything. Even I haven’t staved off the corn growers onslaught on my system. I guess the cost of healthy eating is a lifetime of vigilance.

What am I going to do now that I have this information? My findings suggest I need to eat more real food, less fruit juice, more fruit pulp, and cook more. I’m going to see how long this latest revelation makes me cook fresh meals before I succumb to the convenience of packaged food. Stay tuned.

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