Although many will argue that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) isn’t bad for you, there is a ton of debate that warrants avoiding the ingredient. Many nutritionists blame HFCS as a major reason for the rise in our nation’s obesity rates. Further, there is a theory that the body processes fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than cane or beet sugar, which has an effect on how our metabolic-regulating hormones function and can cause our liver to release more fat into our bloodstream. This can result in our bodies wanting to eat more, while potentially storing more fat.
HFCS is a cheap ingredient and as a result, creeps into many foods that seem otherwise healthy. Whether or not you believe HFCS is bad, it is good to at least understand what kinds of foods actually contain HFCS, so that if you do want to avoid the controversial ingredient, you can do so. Here are some highly popular foods that contain HFCS, and ways you can circumvent consumption:
1. Juice Cocktails
If a juice drink is not made with 100 percent juice, it generally contains a large amount of HFCS, along with other artificial and natural ingredients and flavors. Some examples include: Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice, Capri-Sun Juices, and Tropicana OrangeAde.
Non-HFCS Solution: Opt for buying drinks that are 100 percent pure juice. Even better, eat the fruit. This will give you the fiber benefits as well.
Believe it or not, even sodas containing some juice have HFCS. This includes Orangina, a seemingly healthy soda.
Non-HFCS Solution: Try mixing 100 percent juices with seltzer for a sweeter, more natural alternative. Also, San Pellegrino soda flavors uses all cane sugar and no HFCS.
3. Breakfast Cereal
Even seemingly healthy breakfast cereals contain HFCS. For instance: Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch, Special K, and Smart Start Healthy Heart.
Non-HFCS Solution: Read nutrition labels carefully when in doubt. However, some good brands to try include: Kashi and Nature’s Path.
Once again, seemingly healthy foods like yogurt often contain HFCS. Often, it is found in those that contain “fruit” and other sweetened varieties, such as Dannon and Yoplait.
Non-HFCS Solution: Opt for plain varieties, which often don’t contain HFCS (always check to be sure). Mix fresh or frozen berries or fruit into your plain yogurt to add some natural sweetness. You’ll also benefit from some natural fiber as well!
5. Salad Dressings
Believe it or not, HFCS is often added into seemingly un-sweet items like salad dressings.
Non-HFCS Solution: Make your own dressings when possible because you’ll know what ingredients are being used. Find high quality oils and vinegars, even those that are infused with spices, to create yummy salad toppers.
6. Breads and Baked Goods
Wonderbread, as well as other “healthier” bread products, such as Pepperidge Farm’s line of 100 percent whole grain breads and Sara Lee Heart Healthy Whole Grain Bread are guilty of HFCS use. This is a classic case of ‘HFCS hiding behind whole grain marketing’.
Non-HFCS Solution: Once again, read your labels. Sticking with whole grain baked items are often a good choice, but find those that don’t contain HFCS. A favorite of mine is Arnold’s Natural Fiber and Flax bread.
7. Candy and Candy Bars
Many name brand candy, such as Hershey’s Watchamacallet, and Lifesavers contain HFCS.
Non-HFCS Solution: Buy higher quality candy and/or chocolate bars, such as Equal Exchange and Endangered Species Chocolates. Being of higher quality, even a small piece of these chocolates can be more rewarding than a whole Watchamacallit.
8. Nutrition Bars
Don’t let the word “nutrition” fool you. Many nutrition bars, such as Power Bars, Balance Bars and Zone Perfect Bars contain HFCS.
Non-HFCS Solution: Be scrupulous in reading your labels. Good brands to try: Odwalla and Kashi Go Lean Bars.
In short, it is always best to read the ingredient lists on products. This is the best way to tell if high fructose corn syrup has infiltrated your chosen product. Lastly, try to make things yourself and eat whole foods. If the food isn’t processed, you can be sure there is no nasty HFCS in it!