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There are so many seemingly “healthy” foods in the supermarket these days, but even the best “sounding” products may be packed with a silent killer in the form of high fructose corn syrup, also known as HFCS.

While some say that the substance in itself is not necessarily bad for you, it has been directly linked to high obesity rates, and has been proven to act ‘differently’ in the body than either cane or beet sugar. In effect, it causes the liver to release more stored fat into the bloodstream, which in turn causes us to want to eat more, and so on.

Since it is relatively inexpensive to use, it finds its way into many types of foods, from cereals to juices, cold cuts and more. While the best advice any nutritionist can give you is to eat only fresh, unprocessed foods, if you must purchase packaged goods, do read the labels and know that not all sugars are created equal.

 

Ten Seemingly Healthy Foods that are Full of HFCS

  1. Juice and juice cocktails: Most commercially produced juices are juice blends, and are based on apple, grape or other juices – not necessarily the type of juice they are marketed as. In fact, if the juice product does not say 100% juice on the label, it is likely that it is full of high fructose corn syrup. Alternatives: eat the fruit. Your calorie intake will be a fraction of what you’d consume in juice, plus you’ll have the added benefit of the fiber. Or, make sure you’re choosing 100% juice. While it may be more expensive, you’ll actually be getting something out of it and can consume less to get all the benefits.

  2. Soda: Though not a drink you would normally call ‘healthy’, there are some sodas, such as Orangina, that contain high amounts of HFCS. Alternatives: use plain soda water or fizzy water with a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime or orange, or be sure to choose a flavored soda that uses cane sugar instead of HFCS.

  3. Cereal: So many seemingly healthy cereals have tons of HFCS. Culprits include many types of granola, Special K, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes and more. Cereal bars are also suspect, as are Pop Tarts, Toaster Strudel and other ‘breakfast’ foods. Alternatives: Shredded Wheat, plain oatmeal, Nature’s Path cereals, anything homemade.

  4. Salad Dressings: Here’s where most salads go wrong. You start out with a healthy mix of greens, veggies, fruit and all those yummy things, and then you drown it with a commercial salad dressing that is all HFCS and zero nutrients. In one fell swoop, you’ve added hundreds of empty calories and completely negated the benefits of what you’re about to eat. Salad dressings that use high percentages of HFCS include examples from the brands Kraft and Wishbone. Annie’s Naturals is generally a good bet, and most plain vinaigrette type dressings are generally safe from HFCS, but making your own is always best.

  5. Ketchup: In all its tomato-y goodness, you don’t usually think of ketchup as being full of HFCS, but it is. This also reads true for most barbeque sauces and marinades. Try making your own using brown sugar, honey or maple syrup mixed with hot sauce, cloves and spices. Alternates: Annie’s Naturals, Heinz Organic Ketchup, Hunt’s 100% Natural, Trader Joe’s Brand.

  6. Applesauce: With something as simple as applesauce, you wouldn’t think you’d need to read the labels. Then again, you wouldn’t necessarily think that you’d need to sweeten the stuff, either! Choose instead a brand that lists only apples on the label, and contains no added sugar.

  7. Breads: As if bread doesn’t get a bad enough rap for being so ‘bad for you’, now it’s being exposed for having high levels of HFCS. It’s really important to read labels here, even for brands that purport to be 100% whole wheat. Alternately: try Ezekiel, Pepperidge Farms or Country Hearth 12-Grain.

  8. Syrups: Aunt Jemima, Hershey’s Chocolate and other flavored syrups, or anything labeled ‘pancake syrup’ are all pretty much pure HFCS with some flavor. Best to choose naturally sweet syrup such as 100% pure maple syrup, birch syrup, honey or agave.

  9. Jams and Preserves: It’s fruit, right? How could it be bad? While there might be a dozen reasons that a manufacturer would choose to dose their products with HFCS, the fact is that most mass-produced jams and spreads are full of it. Alternately, choose a jam that states 100% fruit or no added sugar – or better yet, take ripe fruit and smash it directly onto your toast for a burst of fruity freshness.

  10. Yogurt: Another sad statement for ‘healthy’ foods – many yogurts contain HFCS. However, there is a way to make your own sweet fruit yogurt in minutes: choose a yogurt that has no other ingredients but milk and bacterial cultures, add your own sweetener (honey, stevia or maple syrup) and fresh, in-season berries to make it your own. You’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along!

The Lenny & Larry’s Advantage

 
While HCFS is not the only ingredient we health-conscious souls have to worry about, it is one of the major contributors to obesity in this country and this means we need to wage war. The better we are able to educate our customers, the healthier we will all be in the long run. Cholesterol, sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners can be easily interchanged with HFCS, each of these having as devastating an effect on the metabolism as the next. Our promise to you: we search far and wide to present you with the best tasting and best-for-you alternatives available. Join us on this journey, and let our passion for health be your advantage.