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    COACH_NICOLE   72,803
60,000-79,999 SparkPoints

Corn Syrup: The New Health Food?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
COXK03 10/15/2008 1:55PM

  I have been reading lables closer to try to avoid HFC. It is extremely hard. It is in everything! I know shop a lot in the Health Market/Organic section of the supermarket. Getting my family to convert is hard. They are partial to Campbell's Tomato soup and the others I've made them try - is leading them not to eat it.
I'm also not sure what is worse. I now buy bread that contains NO High Fructose Corn Syrup - but may contain other ingredients that may not be so healthy. Try to determine what is the lesser of the evils has been hard. But I know this is good for my children and our family - so, I continue to read labels and someimes the decision is to remove it from our diet entirely.

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NICHOLS42 10/6/2008 9:57AM

  Yes, I have started to see it in a lot of the ingredients of certain items that I like. I do not buy anything that has corn syrup in it. I have trained my husband to look for certain ingredients that are unhealthy for us. I just wish my kids would be more conscious about what they eat and what they feed their children. I try to share with them but some times the message fall on deaf ears.

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LITEGODDESS 8/16/2008 11:59AM


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ROSIEPOSIE56 8/6/2008 3:09PM

    I started watching out for HFCS after a friend of mine said she lost inches from her waist/tummy area after omitting it from her diet. (I know that is not a very scientific claim) It is hard to avoid. Even canned tomato soup has it. Guess I need a recipe for homemade tomato soup...

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DEBSPAD 8/4/2008 12:04PM

    :sigh:, There is so much to learn when getting healthy. But I guess it's because there are so many hidden dangers we should be educated about in order to be successful. And with expert advice passed on we are truly learning ways to better our chances in getting there! Thank you Nicole, Thank You.

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VELMA68 7/30/2008 1:10PM

  We are also on a quest to rid our diets of HFCS. In addition to not buying products that contain HFCS, I have also been contacting companies that manufacture products I used to use and letting them know that I have stopped using their products because they contain HFCS. I also try to contact the manufacturers that don't use HFCS and thank them and let them know that I started to use or continue to use their product because they don't use HFCS. If enough of us vote with our dollars the manufacturers will have no choice but to change.

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HEALTHYGAL01 7/23/2008 2:00PM

    I avoid everything with corn syrup or HFCS in it. HFCS does not occur "naturally". It is amazing how many products have HFCS in them.

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RAINWALKR 7/23/2008 10:18AM

    When I became pregnant with my daughter I began searching for healthful eating habits. I was shocked and stunned at the statistics about HFC. I had never really thought about it before. I started then cutting it out of our diets and was shocked again at how difficult that really is. For example, I was at the store just the other day looking for a bottle of balsamic vinegerette to make a "quick" pasta salad with. When I started reading the labels there was not one, I repeat NOT ONE dressing on the shelf that did not contain HFC. I didn't by one. I bottle a bottle of balsamic vineger and some olive oil and made my own.

It is important for the american population to understand the ramifications of HFC for the furture. I am glad to see you post this information for Spark. It really needs to be mainstreamed so everyone understands. Those 100 calories packs are not helping us lose weight they are hurting our bodies, minds and world.

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RAW4HEALING 7/17/2008 12:46PM

  Hi, I'm new here... just wanted to comment on the great post about HFCS. As a vegan raw foodist, I almost never worry about consuming corn syrup, but I do know that it is contained in almost every processed and packaged food, candy, soda, etc., in both grocery and health food stores.

Mike Adams, of Natural News posted an article about HFCS and how a health food store in Seattle is removing all products from their shelves that contain HFCS:

I also recently saw a video that said American farmers are being subsidized to grow corn for corn syrup, fuel, and cattle feed (which is not their natural feed, and is why they inject them with antibiotics because cattle get sick easier, combined with inhumane cramped living spaces) in fact more corn (something like millions of acres) is grown for manufacturing than for human consumption.

Also, 80% or more of all corn and soybeans are GMO and 100% are hybridized, and grown with pesticides. Another reason to leave it alone unless you can get corn from your local farmer's market.

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SUPER_SHILOH 7/16/2008 9:13AM

    High Fructose Corn Syrup is the worst for you! All you have to do is google it and you'll find several scientists articles about heart hypertrophy (which is heart expansion) and it leads to early diabetes. This is what's in almost every "junk" food you can find. Thanks for sharing your blog! I hope it informs others to become aware of the potential health problems that are being caused by cheap manufacturing!

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VIANA1 7/15/2008 7:28PM

    This reminds me of a video I watched in my Health class of all places when I was in junior high. It was a video promoting real sugar not artificial sweeteners. It started with a overweight girl ordering a fast food meal (hamburger, fries, etc) with a soda with artificial sweetener then at the end she realizes real sugar is better for the body and she orders the same meal again but with sugar. Grrr! I'm sure she was much thinner after that :(

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KARICHELLE 7/11/2008 6:11PM

    Oops posted to the wrong entry!

Comment edited on: 7/11/2008 6:10:07 PM

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FALLENEIRA 7/11/2008 5:58PM

    I think it's really sad how often corn syrup appears in everything...I have been high fructose corn syrup free for 16 months running...and I was so disappointed to find how many foods contain it. I try to stay away from corn syrup as much as possible too.

Comment edited on: 7/11/2008 6:01:23 PM

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FITGIRL15 7/11/2008 12:13PM

    Personally, I've recently overcome my sugar addiction, and it truely is AMAZING how many foods have A LOT of sugar in them!

To me: *sugar is sugar*, whether I get it from candy, fruit or other foods laden with HFCS... so I try to limit my intake of ALL sugars. It has been so VERY beneficial for my well being and ability to CONTROL my food intake and my cravings for anything sweet!

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    I definitely try to limit the amount of corn syrup and sugar that I put into my body. I spend a lot more time reading labels and actively choosing foods that don't have any HFCS. I was pretty frustrated to find out most yogurts and breads have it!

That said, I certainly don't blame or fault the corn growers for trying to push their product. People need to sell the product they're raising for their livelihoods and to make their mortgage payments.

I think some of their tactics (using words like "natural") are a little deceptive, but I also think that the public, combined with great sites like Sparkpeople, is smart enough not to bite off on it.

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DHOLZER 7/7/2008 2:02PM

    Thanks for the references in this article. I watched King Corn this week with my kids and it has changed all or our attitudes. I too am troubled by the ingredients in processed foods and am phasing out "Healthy Choice" frozen entrées from my diet. I initially liked these because they are cheap, taste ok and are portion controlled. It made calorie tracking a breeze. And they were advertised on SparkPeople - so, they have to be good for you, right? But, after getting a little education and looking at the ingredient list - it reads like a chapter of a Michael Pollan book... I can no longer buy these products in good conscience. I am switching to Kashi for my convenience food needs. They have whole grains in them and unprocessed meats. Any chance we will see these advertised on Spark?

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NURSEGIBSON 7/7/2008 9:31AM

    I eliminated most HFCS products from my diet. I was amazed that all the "lite" & "fat free" products were loaded with it. I opt for whole mayo or salad dressing and just stick to portion control. I only eat Stonyfield Farm Yogurt and read labels labels labels!

As far as corn goes, I do eat fresh corn on the cob, if in season and available and can't resist the occasional Tortilla Chip...!

Comment edited on: 7/7/2008 9:29:57 AM

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TLOVESB 7/6/2008 11:02AM

    It is amazing the variety of products they find reason to add HFCS to. Just last week I was reading the label on the fat free half and half I've been using in my coffee and it had HFCS added to it! One more product I won't be using anymore. :(

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SHELLPRO 7/6/2008 6:38AM

    Too bad everyone isn't as aware or concerned about the amounts of sugar in their diets- thanks for passing on the info!

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WALKERPOLLY 7/3/2008 9:06PM

  I eat nothing with high fructose corn syrup or refined sugar. I try to only eat items (or bake with) Agave Nectar, Stevia, or Date Sugar.

I feel much better.

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ZUSKAJ 7/3/2008 11:16AM

    I am severely allergic to corn, but the corn protein. I'm surprised that stormartpro's sister is allergic to corn syrup as it contains no corn protein. My allergist said that people with corn and peanut allergies, like me on both, are allergic to the protein not the sugar. But, a person can be allergic to anything. I can eat corn syrup, but do I want to? Nope. It sounds kind of funny to read a label and if it says plain old sugar, it's better to buy than if it contains HFCS, but there you go.

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YCROZIER 7/3/2008 12:17AM

    I so totally agree that these highly refined products are literally the 'root of all evil' to our health. The idea that because their origins are natural, prior to the refining process, is so irrelevent and misleading it should not be permitted by law! Same with corn starch... it is everywhere, clogging up our systems. Fight back and don't buy this crap!

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AKRASHEED 7/2/2008 5:45PM

  I was reading a magazine about HFCS! I was shocked but after I read that I was running into a lot of articles. Everytime i drink a glass of Ocean Spray Cran HFCS Even a Cookie HFCS It is overwhelming but I am trying to avoid it !! Oh even Mcdonalds an Burger Kings Buns are made with HFSC even though I have stopped eating wheat bread I checked out there websites emoticon

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STORMARTPRO 7/2/2008 2:05PM

  My sister has a very severe corn allergy. She goes into anaphylatic shock from just a very small amount or even the smell of popcorn or roasted corn. Going to the grocery store is always a challenge, you have to read every single label. Just becauser you were able to buy it last week does not mean you can buy it this week. Corn syrup is the worst. It is in so many foods, that many of the item she loves are forbidden boods now. I am sure that the reason for the allergy is due to the multitude of items with corn syrup in it.

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MOMMERSTOO 7/2/2008 1:20PM

    I found out about HFCS when my husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It is very bad for you, and it is not the same as regular corn syrup. Manufacturers use it because it is cheaper than regular sugar, and so much sweeter. It can lead to obesity, diabetes, and kidney failure. And it is in almost everything. You have to be really careful about what you buy if you want to avoid it, as we now are. My husband can't eat it now.

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SPAMSWIFE 7/2/2008 1:18PM

    I never really thought about HFCs alot. I have been trying to prepare food from raw from. So alot of cooking going on at my house.
I never thought that the times I do use premade would have something so hazardous. I will be on the look out now.

Thanks so much for the info!

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MARIVILEN713 7/2/2008 11:57AM

    I am absolutely and totally confused about this issue emoticon . I've pretty much eliminated anything that contains High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) from my diet. I read every label of every product before I buy it. However, what about "corn syrup" and "corn syrup solids" and "maltodextrin" and "dextrose" emoticon Are those all the same as HFCS emoticon .

I would really appreciate it if someone would provide this information because here I am eliminating HFCS from my diet and maybe all these other ingredients are the same!! There are some things I just can't find that do not contain one or all of these ingredients...for example, I can't find a coffee creamer (liquid or powder) that doesn't contain "corn syrup" and/or corn syrup solids" (which sounds disgusting!!)

Are they all the same as HFCS. If not, what is the difference - AND - are any of them safe??

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BRAT3120 7/2/2008 8:56AM

  My fiancé was having an allergic reaction to something causing hives all of him. thur process of elimination we figured it was High Fructose Corn syrup! There is no test for that allergy, and the Doctor never heard of anyone being allergic to it.
The hives where so bad at the last time he looked like elephant man! He eliminated it totally (which is really hard to do!) for a month. Now we watch how much he consumes.
I have also heard it is banned it other countries, anyone know if this is true?

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CMHLLAMA 7/1/2008 11:39PM

    I definitely want to see King Corn now. I've heard about it from several places.

But I'm sad that corn has received so much bad press lately. Yes, corn syrup harms your health, but what about some other foods made from corn? Tortillas, popcorn, cornbread, and don't forget one of the best summer foods of all (to me): grilled husked corn. How many Native American and Mexican recipes use some kind of corn-based product? It really is an all-American food. How frustrating that substances like corn syrup ruin something so wonderful.

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MOMRITZ 7/1/2008 9:50PM

    I absolute avoid ALL products contain HFCS I make the majority of our foods from scratch and ALL of your breads. The US is in a very sad place nutrition-wise. CFCS, artificial dyes and flavors. So much refined and over processed foods. And they wonder why so many of us are over weight. The push for "healthy eating" that includes encouraging the consumption of artificial sweeteners and egg substitutes and foods that are SO far from their original state is a a shame as well.

Why can't there be a public push for education about eating food as it is - or as close to how it comes from the Earth as possible? I really think we would see a big decrease in weight and increase in health.

I will now get off my soap box! emoticon

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MOMTOGIRLS 7/1/2008 8:58PM

  FYI - just looked up "King Corn" on Netflix and it is available for instant viewing. So those interested with Netflix accounts can watch it from your computer.


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MOMTOGIRLS 7/1/2008 8:50PM

  Thanks for the info! I went and reserved "In Defense of Food" immediately. I so agree with the whole wheat bread and HFCS problem! I started making my own whole wheat bread recently because of it. Thanks for the reminder of why I have to keep on top of the foods my family eats!

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SMURPHEY 7/1/2008 8:20PM

    It's great to see such an awareness of how unhealthy HFCS is and how many products contain HFCS. I have been avoiding HFCS for about a year now...I have replaced my regular processed white sugar with organic cane sugar and use local raw honey as a sweetener whenever possible.

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SUNNYARIZONA 7/1/2008 8:18PM

    I too have seen the "false ads" telling us in the REAL world that the corn syrup in our products is just another sugar, and is NOT responsible for making us fat!

Well, I , for one do NOT believe that for a MINUTE. Course I have also been reading ALOT about the TRUTH elsewhere!

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LUFFMANS 7/1/2008 7:39PM

  We have to quit buying all these products with HFCS and Trans fats.If the sales go down the company will get the message and quit making junk that will kill us. I had a heart attack and my doctor said if trans fats were gone from the diet, we would have less people with heart problems.

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MARL35 7/1/2008 7:13PM

  HFCS is found in almost any processed food you look at. Just the other morning my husband and I were comparing cereal nutrition labels and were stunned to see corn syrup in each type - including so-called "healthy" types. Not only is this ingredient effecting our weight, but many experts believe that corn syrup and other food additives may be effecting our children and how they learn and behave. Makes you stop and think (and read), doesn't it?

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SALLYSITWELL 7/1/2008 6:47PM

  Oh, man. I read this and remembered that I bought a loaf of whole wheat bread from a new grocery store bakery but I just checked the first ingredient to make sure it was whole wheat but didn't read further. So I just ran in the kitchen to check and there's no corn syrup, but there is something called 'dextrose' which sounds fishy to me and ALSO partially hydrogenated oil! Granted, those two things are both far down on the list but jeebus, I thought I was doing good by buying fresh baked because, you know, why would they put bad stuff in fresh stuff that isn't meant to be stored and therefore doesn't need crazy preservatives and also, it isn't even cheap so why would they need to put the ingredients that make stuff cheap.

This sucks.

Also, the dairy industry makes me so mad. It's ridiculous. Especially with their "studies" about milk making you lose weight. Dude, if you are the company that SPONSORS the "study" (and never mind that they are poorly constructed and executed) then OF COURSE the results are going to be a positive one for your company's bottom line.

And the meat industry! Gah. I hate that the FDA has to answer to the Cattleman's Association and the dairy industry and the Corn Refiners Association. It's disgusting. And I'm not even one for conspiracy theories and fighting the gov't! It's so aggravating.

ALSO: I looked up that King Corn movie mentioned and the Google Ad for '' was up at the very top which led me to some great propaganda on how awesome HFCS is and how the movie is full of myths. Gee, buddy! Thanks for the help!

Comment edited on: 7/1/2008 6:57:49 PM

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DIANKAY 7/1/2008 6:18PM

  I didn't think I was getting much corn syrup or HFCS. But had been having lots of chronic Diarrhea so went to the specialist. Was I surprised to hear him say I had fructose malabsortion. So Now I can't even have plain fruit. What a situation to be in during fruit season. I guess I will survive but I sometimes wonder.

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AHARVEY11 7/1/2008 6:16PM

  I was so excited to see everybody' s comments! I have been on a mission to remove everything with HFCS from my family's diet. When you start researching and label reading you do find that it really is in everything! I am sometimes made fun of by my husband and friends but the changes I have seen in myself and my children by avoiding corn syrup are worth it. My kids have so much more energy and don't experience sweetener "crashes" like they used to after eating processed foods. We eat a diet exclusively of whole foods and foods prepared at home from scratch now. It takes more time and effort to do things like bake your own breads and cookies but at least then you know that all of the ingredients are natural and you can avoid eating that "sneaky" corn syrup! Thanks to you all for showing me that I am not alone on this mission.

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    The first couple of weeks that I really made myself aware of HFCS as an ingredient, I could not believe all of the foods it had "sneaked" into! I try very hard to avoid it. Really it means eating more whole foods and less processed stuff in general. As far as beverages, I brew my own green tea by the pitcher and add honey if I want it a little sweetener. I have found that once I minimized HFCS my taste changed. HFCS is sickening sweet and can cause almost an addiction to that taste.
Funny enough, I got on the kick once I realized that I would not buy cat food that had corn products for my cats. I stopped and thought, I take better care of my cats than I do of myself!

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LIVELIFE2DAY 7/1/2008 4:45PM

    I try to avoid HFCS at all costs. It amazes me the amount of people that do not know how bad it is for them or even that it's sugar! They just do not educate themselves on nutrition. There are so many other ways to enjoy 'sweets' without harming ourselves. Now I'm going to go and eat some sweet fruit!


Comment edited on: 7/1/2008 4:44:53 PM

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J-GIRL 7/1/2008 4:23PM

  I enjoyed reading your blog post! It's disgusting how much high fructose corn syrup, or things like "corn solids" are found in foods. I'm starting to look up more information on this, especially since I noticed my Fat Free Half & Half from Safeway has "corn solids." I have known for sometime that high fructose corn syrup is bad to have, but I didn't know about all of the health problems that could be associated with it.

I'm still on the look out for that movie, King Corn!

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2000GREAT 7/1/2008 4:15PM

    Nicole - You've hit the nail on the head with this post. I was watching parts of King Corn the other day and I was flabbergasted at how corn is the common raw ingredient in almost everything we consume. My mind was also blown by how this fact is directly linked to the declining health and health system in this country. Not only is our food development system flawed and stupidly dependent on one staple additive, but our bodies are under siege and are being pummeled by unknown chemicals that are connected to the fertilizers and growth stimulants corn farmers used. We have to wake up in this country and take back our health.

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CHRISSYSMOM 7/1/2008 4:14PM

    I've known for a while that almost every packaged or processed food contains corn syrup. My daughter is allergic to corn and we've had to be so careful. It is a cheap "filler" food and is as addictive as sugar. I cannot believe they would advertise it as a health food.

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SDPRINCESS81 7/1/2008 3:35PM

    I had not realized until last week that HFCS is so unhealthy. I found this out by getting an e-mail from SparkPeople. Once I read it, I started tossing out all the food in my fridge that contained HFCS. I was amazed at how many "healthy" foods had it.
I went to the store and had a hard time finding food without HFCS...and even a harder time finding food that is low in fat and does not contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and HFCS. But I'd rather spend more time at the store finding healthier foods that eating the processed crap I used to eat before.

Thanks for the article!

Karla emoticon

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AMYKINS16 7/1/2008 3:33PM

  I've always thought that I made pretty good choices when it came to food, but we all have our vices. Mine is sugar. I love soda and sweets but am really good at moderating my intake of them. For the month of May, I decided to completely go cold turkey on refined sugars. I knew my body would be ecstatic. My intention was cutting out any soda along with all processed sweets. I gave it more thought and realized that HFCS is in a lot of our foods and that it needed to go too. Grocery shopping became a nightmare. Most of the HFCS culprits are obvious but it was the sneaky ones that made me angry....which is everything else in the store. Many wheat breads, english muffins, bagels, non dairy creamers and a million more. I live in Hawaii where everything costs a fortune and health food stores are rare so it came down to paying $6 for the wheat english muffins that didn't contain HFCS over the $4 ones that did. I spent so much money on food that month and continue to do so but my health is worth every penny. I also have to add (for the sake of my fiance who watched me go through this) that after 3 weeks of no refined sugar I was about to snap. I was moody and angry and emotional and I'm never like that. My body was detoxing off of something that has been hidden in a lot of my favorite seemingly healthy foods for 29 years. It wasn't pretty but I'm glad I used the opportunity to further educate myself on food. It's a neverending process!

Avoid HFCS like the plague!!!!!

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PROVERBS31JULIA 7/1/2008 3:05PM

    Oh boy! you and I are kindred spirits. I've been ranting about HFCS for a year or more since I discovered it. I avoid it like the plague. In my family, when we see it on a label, we call it like we see it: "Spawn of Satan"!! ;-) I've been using stevia or honey as my primary sweeteners, sometimes molasses or unrefined "crystally" type sugar for several years now. I've noticed if I'm eating store-boughten sweets or at a restaurant where I can't tell what it is... if I just keep eating and eating it and never feeling full, I know I've just eaten something with HFCS - because that is how it works!! The body doesn't ever recognize that I've just eaten a plateful or two of sweets....meanwhile, I still sucked down all those calories and have to deal with the aftermath. Not good. And the more I'm on stevia, the more I recognize when some food tastes "too sweet" to me - that also usually turns out to have been made with HFCS.

So yea, more power to ya, sister!! Stay away from that stuff!!! ewwww! emoticon

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MR2HORSES 7/1/2008 3:02PM

    Yes, I think it is criminal what the food companies and special interest groups are doing to the public for the almighty dollar..... I think it would be less harmful to just eat raw sugar even though I don't. I do substitute honey, molasses and real maple syrup too.... The foods fixed from scratch do not leave you with a hang-over either....

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AT_MY_STRONGEST 7/1/2008 3:02PM

    I absolutely had no idea! I really appreciate this website and the wealth of information I find here.

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ESTHELA 7/1/2008 2:27PM

    I avoid CS and HFCS at all costs. It is hard to do it, though, but I have pretty much gone around it by making a lot of things at home. The results when you substitute it for molasses or real maple syrup are awesome, though.

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