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There is a sweetener found in most packaged, prepared, and processed food that is touted as “natural” and “healthy” but is actually contributing to obesity, high blood pressure and other health issues. Its names are harmless-sounding but don’t be fooled. This sweetener goes by the names: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, corn sweetener, or fructose.
Corn syrup is the sugar extracted from corn. When isolated it is not and never has been healthy, but as corn is now almost entirely genetically modified, it is even worse for us. The fructose in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) converts to fat stores quickly in your body, which is why it is frequently used in animal experiments to make animals obese. This food additive is found in most packaged, prepared, and fast foods and interferes with your body’s appetite and metabolism hormones, causing your body to store fat. It can be found just about anywhere; food manufacturers have been profiting by sneaking this cheap food additive into our food supply in greater quantities over the last few decades, and it shows in our bottom lines.
But there’s good news. By eliminating the so-called “natural” sweetener for good, you can drop the weight and reduce high blood pressure linked to HFCS.
A University of Colorado study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that even people who eat a healthy, low-sodium diet may be at risk of high blood pressure due to this common food additive, as it was shown to increase blood pressure by up to 32 percent.
According to the study, HFCS leads to inflammation in the bloodstream, which causes the blood vessel walls to tighten, resulting in blood pressure increases. Even people who ate a healthy diet with periodic ingestion of HFCS experienced the blood pressure increase.
Another problem with HFCS being so commonplace in processed and prepared foods is that corn sensitivities are on the rise, affecting more people than ever. If you have developed a food sensitivity to corn, then continued exposure to it can cause bloating and weight gain—another great reason to give it up and slim your waistline.
HFCS can be listed on food labels as corn syrup, fructose, high fructose sweetener, natural sweetener, or even other types of sweetener, but it is still the same health-damaging ingredient. Even foods that claim to be “natural” can include HFCS. Only fresh whole foods are certain to be devoid of HFCS.
HFCS can be found in almost any foods but is common in most sodas and processed foods labeled “low fat” or “nonfat.” (Most food manufacturers add high fructose corn syrup to add flavor when they make fat-reduced foods because it happens to be extremely cheap.)
Some surprising sources of HFCS include:
Granola and granola bars
Cereal (even so-called healthy cereals or cereals intended for children)
Like the name implies, high fructose corn syrup contains fructose, which is also found in fresh fruits. Research shows that consuming fruit does not negatively impact blood pressure, and may even improve it. However, if you see just the word fructose on a packaged food label, it most likely refers to HFCS and it will have the same harmful effect on your weight. Fructose found naturally in fruit can cause weight gain if eaten in high amounts but it contains fiber and minerals like chromium that help slow sugar absorption. HFCS causes rapid blood sugar fluctuations and is a guaranteed way to gain weight.
Read labels on any products you purchase and be sure that the ingredient list doesn’t include high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or fructose. Though HFCS is present in many common foods, from loaves of bread to ketchup to fruit cups, chances are good that if the brand you usually pick includes HFCS, there’s another brand on the same shelf or in your local health food store that doesn’t. Don’t just swap in foods containing sugar or artificial sweeteners, though, as you already know their harmful effects. By removing HFCS from your diet, you’ll dramatically reduce your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Adapted with permission from the upcoming book 60 Seconds to Slim by Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD. Subscribe to my free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow me on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook. Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.