Thursday, December 8, 2011

Let's talk High Fructose Corn Syrup

Ahhh, high fructose corn syrup.  To many of us it is a dirty word- as it should be.  It's in everything- how do you avoid it?  Well, I am here to tell you that you can avoid eating this incredibly harmful food additive.  Let me tell you a little about high fructose corn syrup first though- which I will be referring to as hfcs for the remainder of this post.

Regular table sugar is 50% fructose and 50% glucose, where as, hfcs is 80% fructose and 20% glucose.  As far as sugar is concerned fructose is much worse than glucose due to the way our body metabolizes it.  Yes, they both contain 4 calories per gram, but here is a real eye opener:  If you eat 120 calories of glucose your body instantly stores less than 1 calorie as fat, but, if you eat 120 calories of fructose, your body instantly stores 40 calories as fat!!  Which do you want to eat now?  The reason food companies use hfcs is because of cost- you probably could have guessed that.  From 1970-1990 the annual intake of hfcs increased by more than 1000%.  Excess fructose consumption has been associated with many health problems including:  metabolic syndrome, elevated triglyceride levels (basically fat in your blood), hypertension, non alcoholic fatty liver disease and diabetes.

Type II Diabetes.  We hear a lot of talk about this disease that has dramatically increased in prevalence over the last 20 years.  The CDC estimates that 26 million Americans have diabetes and 79 million adults have prediabetes.  In fact, they estimate that if the current trends continue, by 2050, 1 in 3 American could have diabetes.  Type II Diabetes makes up 90-95% of the current cases of diabetes.  Type I diabetes is something you are born with- your pancreas does not produce insulin.  Type II Diabetes is when the cells in your body are no longer sensitive to the insulin that your body produces.  Here's where hfcs fits in.  When you consume hfcs your body releases insulin- too much insulin.  So, basically your pancreas is being used too much and your body, because it has had too much insulin, now becomes insensitive to what insulin you are producing.  In time, your pancreas may stop producing because it has over produced so much.  If that wasn't enough, most of the hfcs is made from corn that has been genetically modified.  GMO foods is a whole other post though!!  Just know, that foods genetically modified are bad news.  Studies also show that hfcs contains high levels of mercury.  Studies conducted just last year found mercury in 50% of the samples tested.

So, what do we do?  READ FOOD LABELS!!!  Thankfully, companies are starting to take notice of families who no longer want to consume hfcs.  You can now find many products that don't contain it anymore.  Mostly, processed foods (anything that is pre made in a box) is going to contain hfcs.  You may have to stop buying some of your favorite foods.  Trust me, it's worth it.  Ketchup, salad dressings, breads, pickles, bbq sauce, cereals, breakfast bars, etc. all contain hfcs. You can find brands now though that don't contain it, you just have to look for it on your store shelves and read the labels.  I have resorted to making from scratch much of our food.  That way, I know whats in it.  It was time consuming at first, but then you just get into your groove and it works.  I meal plan each week so I know what I need to make ahead of time.  A little pre planning goes a long way!!  Below you will find one of my favorite items to make.  My family loves grape jelly.  But, we all know that the first ingredient on the label of 95% of grape jelly out there is hfcs.  So, I was spending a lot of money buying the organic or natural kind.  My kids love jelly on my freshly made english muffins and also on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I discovered a simple way to make homemade grape jelly.  It is so simple.  Because grape jelly doesn't contain the whole fruit, and only the juice, you get to skip that step of squashing grapes.

Homemade grape jelly

1 box of surejell (low sugar variety in the pink box)
2 1/2 cups of sugar ( I use organic unrefined sugar)
3 cups of grape juice (100% natural, no sugar added)

Mix the box of surejell with the 2 1/2 cups of sugar in a medium size sauce pan.  Add in 1 cup of water and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Let boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and pour in 3 cups of grape juice and stir well, about a minute.  Pour into 3 pint size glass jars. Put the lids on and set on your counter top for 24 hours, then put in the refrigerator.  This will keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks or in the freezer for up to a year.  There is no need to go through the "canning process" because if you don't use it all up in 3-4 weeks you can just stick it in the freezer.

I am confident you will love this jelly.  It is so fresh tasting, my kids will no longer eat store bought jelly.  And, it literally only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.

I will continue to post more recipes on this blog- so keep on following!!

1 comment:

  1. Loving your blog! Thanks Ginger! I'm making jelly!

    Josie Soots