The Hidden Sources (and Not-so-hidden Dangers) of High Fructose Corn Syrup
Despite a booming health and fitness industry, the United States is still suffering from an obesity epidemic. More Americans—especially children—are overweight than ever before. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles play a significant role, as do our poor eating habits.
All too often, we skip breakfast, throwing off our metabolisms and making ourselves more hungry—and more likely to eat more—later. We eat too fast and snack too much between meals. We eat mindlessly. We eat when we're happy or when we're sad or when we're mad or late at night when we should be sleeping. We eat junk food when because it's more convenient than preparing healthy meals, and when we go grocery shopping, we grab things that taste good or because the package looks good. And we seldom read food labels. When we do, we don't always understand them.
If we spent more time reading food labels, we'd notice a lot of things. We'd notice how many servings of our favorite foods are recommended versus how many we actually eat. (Hint: We eat too many.) We'd notice how much sodium, fat, and carbs can be found in many of the foods we eat. And we'd especially notice how much sugar we're consuming. And when it comes to sugar, much of the sweet stuff in the foods on the shelves comes in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
High fructose corn syrup is derived from genetically modified corn, and since the 1980s, food manufacturers have been adding this cheap form of sugar to countless products. You probably know that HFCS can be found in sodas and breakfast cereals, but consider this staggering list of other packaged foods where it can also be found:
HFCS and Your Health
Unlike with beet or cane sugars, HFCS causes your body to release endorphins, dopamine, and seratonin, which—just like with cocaine and other drugs—stimulate your brain's pleasure center and leave you wanting more. This can be particularly dangerous, as increased consumption of HFCS can lead to an increased risk of weight gain, Type-2 diabetes, hypertension, elevated “bad” cholesterol levels, liver damage, and mercury exposure.
The best strategy is to avoid HFCS completely. While the sweetener is found in countless products, it is possible to avoid it.
Consider these tips:
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