Check out the image above. It's an ad I came across in an email newsletter I received recently—from another health website, no less! Think about what it's trying to say and why. Who would want to PROMOTE the use of corn syrup to consumers? I think it's obvious who would benefit—the makers of corn syrup and the companies who use the cheap, unhealthy sweetener in their food products. I clicked on the ad only to prove my hunch right, and it took me to a website that would look very pretty and "informative" to the untrained eye. I scrolled straight to the bottom to find that it's run by the "Corn Refiners Association." Is that where you should get reliable, unbiased information about sweeteners? I think not.
I think it's sad that many consumers are duped on a daily basis thanks to promotional ads like these, and the buzz words put on food packages in the grocery store. Food manufacturers have more leeway than you might think in what they can say on their packages, which allows them to mislead consumers on many levels. One thing that the Corn Refiners are trying to tell us in this ad (and in their other promotional materials) is that corn syrup is "natural." Well, to me, it seems anything but natural, which many people equate (often wrongly) with "healthy." But when you learn that the term "natural" is not officially defined or even regulated by the FDA
, then it's easy to see why it's so pervasive.
Corn syrup is far from a health food. And despite the agenda that corn refiners are trying to push, not all sugars are created equally, either. Corn syrup been linked to numerous health conditions like obesity, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and more. Other studies show that foods sweetened with corn syrup aren't metabolized the same way as other sweeteners, which is a fancy way of saying that you may be more likely to overeat and less likely to feel full when corn syrup is in your food. A diet rich in sweet and heavily processed foods (like corn syrup) is neither healthy for your body nor your weight.
This is just one example of how a healthy amount of skepticism can help you navigate the confusing world of health and nutrition. A few days after seeing this ad, I watched the movie King Corn
, a documentary about corn in America, which is (in some form) an ingredient in nearly every processed food, to the detriment of our environment, agricultural system and health. Sure foods can be cheap when they use cheap ingredients, but what is the real cost in terms of your health, years of your life, and the health care system? I highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in eating healthier and better understanding our vast food system. Oh and of course, In Defense of Food
, which will help you become a better educated consumer.
What do you think about corn syrup? Since becoming more health-conscious, have you noticed how often it appears on the Ingredients list of seemingly "healthy" foods like yogurt, cereal and whole wheat bread (I can't tell you how often I hear complaints of that
)? Have you tried to avoid foods that contain it? Share your thoughts and dilemmas in the comments below.
More SparkPeople Articles about Corn Syrup: www.sparkpeople.c