When was the last time you checked a label for additives, preservatives, dyes or flavors? This is no new news but another nutritional bandit is the food industries personal favorite: high fructose corn syrup. This highly refined and processed corn product is used in a variety of products around the nation to increase the sweetness of food and beverage products for little to no cost. The food industry quickly caught on to the fact that HFCS is cheaper to make than sugar from sugar beets or sugar cane.
While it may be cheap for their wallets, it is just the opposite for our environment. HFCS comes from corn that is mono-cropped which leads to soil depletion and degradation.
Where the high fructose corn syrup is hiding
When HFCS was linked to obesity1, food corporations knew they had to quickly change something because we would soon catch on so… they gave HFCS some nicknames. Here are a few hidden names to watch for on a label: glucose fructose syrup, isoglucose, chicory, fruit fructose and inulin.2 Labels are not the only thing HFCS is hiding in. Let’s look at some unexpected sources of HFCS.
Bread – Many popular brands of bread contain HFCS. Even if the package says whole-grain, unrefined, unbleached or healthy, they still contain HFCS. Making your own bread or buying from a local bakery who uses clean ingredients is the best route to take.
Dressing – Sitting down for a delicious salad at lunch or dinner is a great way to support your health but you need to watch for that hidden HFCS in the dressings you purchase. Wishbone, Olive Garden and Miracle Whip are all popular brands that contain HFCS. Using simple ingredients like avocado oil, apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast is a great way to make your own dressings at home.
Canned fruit – Well, eating fruit from a can has always been a bit strange to me and it’s probably because it made me feel sick as a child when I ate it. Just eat fresh fruit and you’re set.
Cereal – Whether it says organic, heart healthy, cholesterol free, fat free or whatever other labels they give it, keep an eye out for HFCS in boxed cereal and granola. Many times, it will be hidden amongst the nuts, seeds and other grains but do not be fooled. If you must buy cereal, choose products that are made with whole food ingredients like sprouted grains, nuts and seeds.
Don’t get discouraged, there’s hope for your health!
‘Maple’ syrup – This one gets me all the time and I even fell for it once! I found a good deal on maple syrup and after using it and tasting how sweet it tasted, I looked at the label and although it didn’t have HFCS it has cane juice as the #1 ingredient. When you are buying maple syrup look for one ingredient: maple syrup.
Peanut butter – As weird as it may seem to add sweetener to peanut butter, they do it. Popular brands that are plastered with health claims may not be healthy at all. When I eat nut butter, I choose brands added sugars or additives. Moxie Nosh, Nuttzo, Artisana and Thrive Market brand. You can use the code SIMPLHOLISTIC at Moxie Nosh for a dollar off!
Protein bars – Many snack bars may seem like a healthy choice but when you flip the tab and see the label, you find out a different truth. GMO soy, processed flavors and HFCS are common ingredients in these so called “health bars”. This will leave you with a sugar crash and a headache once you’re most in need of energy! These no-bake protein bites are a great alternative to conventional protein bars.
Protein powders – Protein powders come in all shapes and sizes. Good, bad and ugly… All I can say about these is read your labels, read your labels and read them again. Here is my favorite protein!
Next time you are in the store, check the labels of what you pick up. Did you know that your ‘health’ foods are filled with a man-made sweetener that is robbing you of optimal health. What is your favorite healthy snack, dressing or food item that doesn’t contain high-fructose corn syrup. Let us know in the comments below!