Have you ever looked at a product’s marketing – low-carb, fat-free – and without checking the label, assumed that it’s healthy? Well, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) might give you a reason to double-check the ingredient list. If HFCS is listed, it might as well read “coated in sugar”.
Why do manufacturers use this ingredient?
It allows food to have a longer shelf-life without compromising taste. Why was it developed? Until the 1960s, food was sweetened exclusively with sucrose, but then the food industry developed high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It’s much sweeter than sucrose and glucose – and a great deal cheaper than sugar produced from sugar cane. The use of HFCS in the US skyrocketed; by 19985, sucrose consumption had dropped by 50%, while the average HFCS intake increased by 42%. By 2004, Americans, particularly children an adolescents, were already consuming an average of nearly 50g of fructose a day.
In South Africa we have not yet experienced this HFCS explosion, because most of our sweetened beverages and prepared foods contain sucrose derived from sugar cane.However, HFCS has definitely entered our market, making it critical that we learn to keep an eye out for it and become aware of the damage it can cause.
Where is HFCS found?
- Salad dressing;
- Ice cream;
- Sweets; and
Why is it bad for us?
HFCS is made up of pure fructose and sugar, combined with a variety of toxic chemicals. This is because many of the chemical contaminants used in the manufacturing process, such as chloralkali, end up in the syrup. What you may not know is that chloralkali contains mercury. As a result, trace amounts of mercury are found in foods containing high-fructose corn syrup. If these foods are consumed frequently, this heavy metal can build up in the body, causing health problems.
Eating too much HCFS can also cause hepatic steatosis (fatty liver). With 90 million Americans currently living with hepatic steatosis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has noted that food that contains HFCS can lead to obesity. The researchers say that the tastier the food is, the more likely you are to overeat it. If eaten in high amounts, HFCS will lead yo diabesity (obesity and Type-2 diabetes). While HFCS s not banned in any countries, Europe and the UK have restricted the products and placed it under quota limitations. Click here to find out what is found in recent studies on this ingredient.
What is the healthy alternative?
If you want to stay healthy, lose weight and get rid of chronic disease, replace this ingredient with natural sugars, such as honey and date sugar, or sugar alcohols such as xylitol. There are a number of health-conscious brands that offer healthy alternatives to your favorite snacks, so you won’t have to compromise on taste. Click here to find out everything about these alternatives. The key is always to read labels and ensure that you know what you’re putting into your body – and the effect it will have on your health.