Up front. High Fructose Corn Syrup
(herein referred to as HFCS) is bad.
You shouldn't be eating it at all, but damned if it isn't hard not to. I thought I'd been doing fine, but when a friend of mine whom I'm cooking for let me know that he can't eat any HFCS-containing foods, I started checking my labels.
There goes my favorite BBQ sauce. Syonara Sweet Baby Ray, it was sweet while it lasted. (And it's not just Sweet Baby. Virtually all BBQ sauces have HFCS.) For the record I'm trying Ann's Organic BBQ Sauce. Here's a list of some other BBQ sauces put together by BBQ Sauce Reviews.
There are even some BBQ Sauces out there that claim online not to have HFCS. Like Bull's Eye who claims that their BBQ sauce does not contain HFCS. Just check out their website here. But if you go to the store and read the label, it's the first ingredient mentioned. Thank God companies still have to mention at least some ingredients.
So why the frufru about HFCS?
Doctor Mark Hyman explains it better than I ever could in his not so very subtle article titled 5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You. (Notice he didn't say can but used the very definitive helping verb will)
Some basic biochemistry will help you understand this. Regular cane sugar (sucrose) is made of two-sugar molecules bound tightly together– glucose and fructose in equal amounts.The enzymes in your digestive tract must break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the body. HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form. Fructose is sweeter than glucose... Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver” which affects 70 million people.The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin–our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more.
He goes on in the article to give many examples of how the corn industry has propagandized HFCS
claiming that it's the same chemically as cane sugar. He shows where the industry has created their own fake news websites and have targeted doctors with information, even going so far as to vaguely promise that there will be consequences if they don't stop saying HFCS is bad for the human body.
But if you don't trust a medical doctor, then why not trust the master drill sergeant of all body coaches, Jillian Michaels of The Big Fat Loser fame in her article MYTH: High-Fructose Corn Syrup Is No Worse for You Than Table Sugar.
In a recent study at Princeton University, researchers found that rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to water sweetened with table sugar — even when they consumed the same number of calories. A second study they conducted monitored their weight gain over a period of six months and found that the rats consuming HFCS showed abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides (which prevent the hormone leptin from telling the brain you’re full), and significant fat around the belly. Many health organizations link the increased use of HFCS in foods to the increased obesity rates in this country. Though nothing has been proven 100 percent, many studies point to these negative effects from HFCS.
Summarized- You get fatter from eating HFCS in the same quantity as regular sugar.
Oh, and there's chemistry involved. There will be a test.
A study done at the University of Pennsylvania found that fructose does not suppress the hunger-hormone ghrelin the way that glucose (table sugar does). Women who ate fructose instead of glucose had higher ghrelin levels throughout the day, overnight, and into the next day. To put it simply, these women felt like they were starving all day, thanks to the fructose. In addition to making ghrelin levels rise, HFCS somehow tricks the body into not releasing the hormones insulin and leptin (the hormones released when your body feels full).
So here's what all this means to me with the start of 2016. I'm going to go through my refrigerator and pantry (and our pantry annex) and get rid of everything with HFCS. It's going to be a lot of things. It's not going to be pretty. Then I'm going to concentrate when I shop and buy only those things HFCS free. I mean to do otherwise is kind of stupid, right?
I don't drink sodas or anything with artificial sweeteners (until they start artificially sweetening Chardonnay then I'm screwed), but I know I'm going to encounter this out in the wild (eating at restaurants). I just have to choose carefully and ask questions.
I promised there'd be a test, right?
Okay. Here's the test.
Do you want to continue eating HFCS and see how long you live? Or do you want to do away with it and see how long you live? My favorite BBQ sauce and ketchup isn't worth taking 5, 10, 15 years off my life. I can see you now on your final day. "I'm dying, but at least I continued eating X Brand BBQ Sauce."
You're not fooling no one.
WTF are you going to do?