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High-intensity sweeteners are often used as sugar substitutes because they are many times sweeter than sugar. They are popular because they add only a few or no calories when added to foods.
Like all ingredients added to food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates high-intensity sweeteners. Several years ago, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) received a bad name for being very unhealthy. Researchers found that it contributes to obesity. How?
Most sugars, including white table sugar, agave syrup and molasses are processed from their original forms to make them safe and easy to eat. They are made up of one part glucose (the sugar found in tomatoes, onions and mushrooms) and one part fructose (the sugar found in fruit and honey). HFCS is different. It is a highly processed form of corn sugar that has a higher amount of fructose than glucose. The body processes the fructose in a way that causes obesity.
HFCS causes a spike in your body’s blood sugar. The spike can last for quite some time before blood sugar levels return to normal. This affects your metabolism in a way that can lead to obesity. HFCS also increases your triglyceride levels and bad cholesterol (LDL). All of these things boost your risk for obesity and heart disease.
The negative press has made people more aware of what they are eating. More people are reading food labels to look for hidden sugars in foods. Now the FDA has approved renaming the dangerous sugar on food labels. High-fructose corn syrup will now be called HFCS-90. So, if you’re really monitoring your sugar intake, be aware. Don’t let it sneak by you!
Watching your sugar intake is important for everyone – especially people with diabetes. Using a food diary is a great way to keep track of your sugar intake along with your calories and nutrients. Being well informed is an important step to being your healthiest. Good health means fewer doctor visits, less medication, more energy and greater vitality.
HFCS is mostly found in packaged and processed foods. Steer clear of these HFCS-loaded foods:
Your health is important, so take the time to read food labels and avoid foods laden with HFCS. Instead, eat foods without high fructose corn syrup.
You can also help stay healthy year round by taking advantage of important health screenings covered by your health plan. This includes preventive services, such as screening for abnormal blood glucose, that may be covered at no cost to you if services are provided by a network provider. *
Do you have a sweet tooth?
Originally published 4/21/2016; Revised 2021
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