High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a man-made sweetener derived from corn, an often genetically engineered crop in the United States that is exposed to very high levels of pesticides. Unlike natural sugar, which is derived from sugar cane, high fructose corn syrup is artificially mass produced through a complicated, scientific process.
Since the early 1980’s when high fructose corn syrup began to be used in commercial food products, a number of studies have pointed the finger at it as one of the main factors contributing to our nation’s staggering obesity rate and high occurrence of both types of diabetes.
Though the jury is still out regarding the link between high fructose corn syrup and obesity, the fact that this artificial sweetener can be found in almost anything we eat or drink is not a well kept secret. In fact, this artificial sweetener can sometimes be found in the most unlikely places such as the cocktail peanuts you enjoy snacking on throughout the day.
The following is a short list of seemingly healthy foods in which we do not expect to find high fructose corn syrup:
Yogurt is one of the healthiest foods known to man. However, many popular commercial brands of yogurt such as Dannon and Yoplait, sold in the United States, attempt to mask the naturally tart taste of yogurt by adding artificial flavors and highly sweetened fruit preserves to it. Of course, because of its sweet taste and low cost, high fructose corn syrup is the sweetener of choice for these food manufacturers.
The easiest way to spot high fructose corn syrup in your favorite yogurt brand is to check the ingredients label. If you find that you are uncomfortable with the presence of this artificial sweetener in your favorite snack you can either switch to another brand or attempt to make your own homemade Yogurt, which is easily done! This is my recipe for homemade Organic Greek Yogurt
Many Commercial Bread Brands
One of the reasons why bread is causing our collective waistlines to expand so significantly is because commercial bread companies were amongst the first food manufacturers to add high fructose corn syrup to their bread recipes. Most popular whole wheat breads, which are often advertised as being a “healthy choice” are notoriously high in high fructose corn syrup. A prime example of this is Wonder Bread’s Stone Ground 100% Whole Wheat bread which lists HFCS on its ingredients’ list.
Breakfast Cereal Bars
Breakfast cereal bars are amongst some of the most unhealthy foods sold in supermarkets today. Though often advertised as “healthy breakfast options” these cereal bars might as well be nothing more than candy bars since their ingredients list features such items as corn syrup, high maltose corn syrup, sugar, sugar cane fiber and fructose.
All Types of Soda Including Tonics
The majority of us know that all kinds of soda contain large amounts of high fructose corn syrup. However, what most of us are unaware of is that tonics contain just as much high fructose corn syrup as soda.
A fresh bowl of salad can serve as a healthy snack and/or lunch. Of course, the majority of us like to enjoy our salads with an equally tasty dressing. Homemade salad dressings are often sweetened with honey but a large number of commercial salad dressings contain high fructose corn syrup. The main reason for this is because these commercial salad dressings also contain a large amount of sodium as a preservative. Therefore, high fructose corn syrup is added to mask the taste of sodium as well as sweeten the dressing. For example, Ken’s Chef’s Reserve French Dressing with Applewood Smoked Bacon contains so much high fructose corn syrup that it lists this artificial sweetener as its first ingredient.
I have a hard time figuring out why some people choose to purchase canned fruit over fresh fruit. Canned fruit contain large amounts of high fructose corn syrup and added sugar because the point is to add so much sugar to the fruit that it begins to act like a preservative. In fact, most canned fruit contain just four ingredients: fruit, water, high fructose corn syrup and sugar.
Many condiments contain high fructose corn syrup. Most popular ketchup brands such as Heinz contain high amounts of (HFCS).
Photo courtesy of: Jeffreyw