Health-conscious consumers are constantly on the lookout for such ingredients as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It is common knowledge that HFCS has a home in cake, candy, and soda. Now; however, shoppers should be aware that their local grocery store may stock products that unexpectedly have HFCS in them, and it takes more than an assumption to find out.
High-fructose corn syrup is a corn-based sweetener that commonly replaces or accompanies table sugar (sucrose) in various food products. Companies often prefer to utilize HFCS due to its affordable price and its preservative qualities.
The health effects of HFCS are widely disputed. There is no solid evidence that it is unhealthier than other available sweeteners. It is theorized that the body breaks down HFCS differently than other sugars in a way that potentially causes the liver to let more fat into the bloodstream, thus raising concerns about its potential health risks. Whether or not HFCS is the unhealthiest of sweeteners, studies have found connections between excessive consumption of sugars (not exclusively corn syrup) and such issues as weight gain, dental cavities, poor nutrition, and an escalated risk for a heart attack due to increased triglyceride levels.
Consumers would be wise to investigate their food choices for HFCS and other sweeteners. It is no surprise that HFCS is in sugary products such as fruit drinks, soda, yogurt, candy, and other fruity foods like jams and sauces. Surprisingly; however, HFCS has also found its way into foods that are seemingly unsweetened. Salad dressings, granola bars, frozen pizzas, macaroni and cheese, peanuts, ketchup, and even tonic water have listed high-fructose corn syrup in their ingredient panels.
More alarming still is that this sneaky corn syrup is managing to work its way into the foods more typically purchased by dieters and other health-conscious purchasers. Whole-grain and “healthy” breads are guilty of harboring HFCS, as well as heart-healthy breakfast cereals. Ironically, nutrition bars are known to often contain HFCS, despite their purpose of being, well, nutritious.
The bottom line here is that even for those who scrupulously watch what they eat, it is always wise to read the fine print and be sure of the product you are getting. High-fructose corn syrup sneaks its way into a great number of food, and regardless of its effects in comparison to other sweeteners, it is prudent to monitor your sugar intake.
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