There are many reasons why I follow a DIYet. One reason is that I like knowing what ingredients are in my food. There are some ingredients I want none of, like peanuts which will kill me. I minimize my intake of some ingredients, like hydrogenated oil which can increase the risk of heart disease.
There are some common food ingredients that everyone seems to have an opinion about, and few ingredients get people talking more than high fructose corn syrup. So, what is HFCS? Here is an easy-to-understand summary from the FDA. You may note that the last section of this summary states that HFCS is not more harmful to your heath than an equal amount of table sugar. In fact, the majority of peer-reviewed literature agrees that HFCS is not dangerous in and of itself.
So what’s all the fuss about? Why are people up in arms against this sweetener?
HFCS is a significant contributor to the amount of added sugars we to eat in the USA. The American Heart Association recommends that women eat no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) and men eat no more than 9 teaspoons (150 calories) of added sugars per day. Easy, right? Okay, go check your cabinet. Look at the ingredient lists on some of those cans and bottles. I’ll wait here.
Did you notice how many items that we don’t think of as sweets have added sugar in one form or another? Salad dressing, crackers, tomato products (especially ketchup) all commonly contain extra sugar. Here’s a neat article about hidden sugar from Yahoo! News. The write up is geared towards parents, but we can all get the point- there is more sugar in our food than we think, and we eat too much sugar. Since the 1980’s HFCS has become a common added sugar, especially in beverages. The bulk of the problem is not HFCS specifically but our over consumption of sweeteners in general.
So what do you do? First, start reading food labels and find where the added sugars are. If you’re not proficient at food label reading, you can tune up your skills here. The hints on decoding the ingredients list to look for added sugar are at the bottom. Also, start making more of your own stuff. If you read this blog then chances are you’re already doing that. I know how much sugar is in my Graham crackers, ketchup, and zucchini bread (and now, so do you).
There are some people who attribute tummy trouble to eating HFCS. This has been documented- it’s a real thing. If this describes you then avoiding HFCS altogether is a good idea. For all of us, however, the best thing to do is minimize all kinds of added sugars and use fresh and dried fruits to satisfy our sweet teeth. Easier said than done, especially as pie season draws near, but we should all give it a try! No one factor makes an individual unhealthy, or healthy. Being aware of your added sugar intake is just one thing you can do to make your DIYet as healthy as possible.