Healthy Eating

Healthy eating & avoiding high fructose corn syrup

I’ve been on a health kick in recent years.  Not over the top crazy but taking little steps just to make sure I do what I can to be just a bit healthier.  One of the biggest things I’ve done is to give up sodas entirely.  Whereas I used to drink at least one Diet Coke a day, I rarely drink sodas anymore except for the occasional here or there.  That made a huge difference.  There was a study that suggested that even diet sodas can potentially cause weight gain.  It was done on rats and WebMD says the science is inconclusive.  There may be a correlation between diet soda drinkers and higher calorie intake, but still, there were enough questions that it was just best to cut out the artificial sweeteners altogether.

Another is the switch from margarine and spreads to real butter.  For a long time, people thought the fake stuff was better for you than the real thing.  But then we begin to realize that the hydrogenated oils used to make those spreads weren’t that good for you at all.  Now people are slowly making the switch back.

Lately, I’ve been trying to get healthier by avoiding preservatives where I can and to a larger degree, cutting out high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  If you didn’t know, HFCS is a cheap sweetener made from corn.  Most people don’t know that the majority of corn grown in the US is not for consumption by people but for HFCS production or animal feed.  HFCS is cheaper because you can use less of it than table sugar for the same relative sweetness.  This is because HFCS has more fructose compared to glucose than table sugar.  Hence the name: high fructose corn syrup.

The body treats fructose different than glucose though and too much fructose can cause various issues.  These include increasing blood sugars and triggering the body to convert fructose to fat rather than burning it for energy.  For these and various other good reasons, it’s better to just ditch it together when you can.  If I must have a soda these days, I opt for the regular kind.  Within those, I reach for the one with sugar rather than those with HFCS.  It’s so ubiquitous in American foods though that you might not have an option.  But when you do, it pays to select the one with sugar instead.  When I buy peanut butter and jams, I look for the natural versions that uses only sugar rather than HFCS, dextrose, etc.  You can also reach out to the manufacturers and tell them you want to avoid HFCS.  It worked on taking GMO crops out of Cheerios so it may work here as well.  In the mean time, choose what you eat wisely.  A little bit goes a long way!