Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
First published on April 21, 2006 - Updated on August 20, 2010

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A Killer on the Cob

Since this article was written (April 21, 2006), HFCS has been removed from some foods. For instance, Kraft has removed HFCS from its salad dressings and Heinz has introduced "Simply Heinz" which uses sugar instead of HFCS. Despite the food industry's continued claims that "sugar is sugar", and the beverage industry's bought-and-paid-for study that "proved" HFCS is the same as sugar...we continue to see HFCS slowly disappearing from America's food supply. Unfortunately the worst offenders, the soft-drink manufacturers, continue to use HFCS in their products, and continue to maintain that "sugar is sugar".

Recently there have been independent studies linking HFCS to pancreatic cancer - and showing that cancer cells "slurp" up fructose (which high fructose corn syrup has an abundance of). America continues to get fatter and sicker - and our soft drinks are still loaded with HFCS. Smucker's continues to make its jams and jellies, marketed in the United States, with HFCS;  Hershey's Chocolate Syrup (and other syrups) are mainly HFCS. Cancer will be the world's number one killer by 2013, and it's the world's costliest disease.

Profit and greed continue to reign over doing what is right. The few extra pennies it would cost manufacturers to replace HFCS with sugar - prevents the food industry from removing HFCS from their products. And the Corn Refiner's Association is doing all it can to protect the mega agri-businesses who process corn into HFCS.

And it's all about greed; it's all about money.

Here is the original article, written on April 21, 2006. It first appeared in our InfoAve Premium newsletter, Issue #134.

A Killer on the Cob

I lamented not too long ago about Heinz ruining one of my favorite "foods" which, I'm ashamed to say, is ketchup. Once upon a time Heinz Ketchup (American) was made from "Red Ripe Tomatoes" and "sugar" amongst other things. Today, in America, Heinz Ketchup is made from "Tomato Paste (from Red, Ripe Tomatoes) and High Fructose Corn Syrup amongst other things, though Heinz claims it's the original Heinz ketchup which it is not.

There's no doubt the last year or so I've been plumping up rather nicely and that has led to some health problems which I won't go into here but suffice it to say it got my attention.

Last week, after a great deal of reading and research, I decided that I would try to remove all traces of high fructose corn syrup from my diet. As you will see that is no easy task.

But let me stop a minute and tell you what I've discovered about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and you'll see why I'm trying not to eat anymore of it if I can possibly avoid it. If you live in the United States you're going to find avoiding HFCS very difficult.

According to an article in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the possible culprit for the obesity epidemic in America. HFCS, which has been linked to diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer among others, is almost ubiquitous in foods and beverages in the United States.

There has been a 76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs old since 1990. The percentage of overweight children in the United States has tripled since 1980. The epidemic of type 2 diabetes cases across the nation will likely lead to a substantially higher incidence of strokes among middle-aged adults and newly diagnosed diabetics.

Now, why is it so hard to avoid it? Because it's in almost everything (if you live in the U.S.A.).
High Fructose Corn Syrup is found in fruit drinks like HI-C, Capri Sun, Sunny Delight, Snapple, Hawaiian Punch, Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice and other fruit drinks. It is found in chocolate drinks such as Yoohoo and even chocolate milk; it's in Arizona Tea, sweetened iced tea, SoBe Beverages, cookies, ice cream, Campbell soups, Heinz Ketchup, spaghetti sauce,  pancake syrups, Hershey's Syrup, Breyer's Yogurt, barbecue sauce, pickles and breakfast cereals (mostly Kellogg's'). It's in Kraft Miracle Whip. It's in some tomato paste (yes it is). It's found in almost all national brand white and wheat breads. It's Smuckers jams, jellies, and preserves. Even though Smucker's states right on the label "All Natural Ingredients" it contains HFCS which is NOT a natural ingredient. Gee, with a name like Smuckers, you'd think they'd use sugar!

It's found in candy bars, canned fruits; it's in Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, RC Cola, most brands of Root Beer, Seven Up, Sierra Mist, Spite - almost all soft drinks sold in the United States contain HFCS.  Even things that are not sweet (like Campbell's Bean With Bacon soup) contain HFCS. Look on the label and see for yourself. It's almost impossible to avoid HFCS if you live in the U.S.A..

Coca-Cola Classic bottles and cans state "original formula". But that's not true. There was no HFCS in the original Coca-Cola. HFCS wasn't even invented when Coca-Cola was first becoming the "national drink. In fact the original formula had cocaine in it. They replaced the cocaine with caffeine (to comply with the law) and replaced sugar with HFCS to increase their profit margin - your health be damned.

What have they done to my Coke? Coke with sugar tastes better and is less harmful for you than Coca-Cola made with HFCS. What does Coca-Cola care about? You or profit? I'd bet that if you live in Canada, Europe, Australia, or Asia you're getting real Coca-Cola with sugar in it. We the people of the United States of America can only buy Coca-Cola made with HFCS. Are we lucky or what?

Do you like "Fast Food"? McDonald's offers 32 items that contain HFCS. HFCS is everywhere. Don't believe me? Get up right now and look in your fridge and pantry. You'll be shocked. You should be upset. Are you?

I've found out that people who consume HFCS  increase their triglycerides 32 percent relative to people who use mostly sugar. Elevated triglycerides is a precursor to elevated cholesterol. This is not speculation. This is according to University of Minnesota professor John Bantle. The body metabolizes high fructose corn syrup differently than sugar. It blunts the body's ability to recognize when it is full and increases a person's appetite. The more of it you consume the more you want to consume. Sort of like an addictive drug, eh? A killer on the cob, indeed.

High Fructose Corn Syrup puts people at risk for metabolic syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Having just one of these conditions — increased blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, excess body fat around the waist or abnormal cholesterol levels — contributes to your risk of serious disease. In combination, your risk is even greater." HFCS can contribute to increased blood pressure, type2-diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess body fat particularly around the waist. And, unless you're very careful, your foods will be full of HFCS.

People in Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and other parts of the world don't have to go out of their way to avoid HFCS. Their processed food products contain very little, if any, HCFS. I wonder why?

You might ask why are we, the people of the United States of America, being bombarded with foods that contain HFCS? It's easy. Money. HFCS is cheaper than sugar, although artificially so. Remember we're the land of "amber waves of grain". We have lots of corn. The tariffs on sugar being held artificially high protects HFCS processors like Archer Daniels Midland. It keeps the price of sugar artificially high while the price of HFCS is kept artificially low by government subsidies. That's why we're being overwhelmed with HFCS is almost many of the processed foods we consume.

We're pawns in the corporate profit game. Our livers, hearts, and bodies suffer to ensure the profits of corn processors like AMD and big food manufacturers. We're the victims of the killer on the cob. Food manufacturers are filling our bodies with an artificially engineered sweet substance that is causing an epidemic of health problems for those of us living in the United States. What's good for business is good for America. So they say.

The corn producers of course argue that HFCS is just another form of sugar. That's like saying Bird Flu is just another form of flu. HFCS is not handled by the human body like sucrose or glucose. HFCS is metabolized by the liver and does not trigger the insulin reaction that table sugar does. So, when you consume HFCS your body doesn't get the "full" feeling it gets when you eat foods containing regular sugar. So you can eat more and feel full less - which, for one thing, is a good way to get fat quicker.

The manufacturers of HFCS say their products are safe. A statement from the Corn Refiners Association says:

"High fructose corn syrup and table sugar are compositionally equivalent. HFCS is not the cause of obesity. Increased calories and a lack of exercise are to blame. One should note: Obesity is also on the rise in Mexico and Europe, both of which do not consume HFCS."

Hmmm. Why don't Mexico and Europe consume HFCS? And obesity in Europe and Mexico is not on the rise to nearly the same degree as it is on the rise in the United States.

The Corn Refiners Association's statement of innocence reminds me of the tobacco associations back in the early 1960's when evidence was piling up against cigarette smoking and tobacco use. If you go back and look you'll see the tobacco associations were issuing statement after statement saying that smoking was safe and that there was no hard evidence that cigarette smoking or tobacco products caused any of the health problems which medical research had begun to reveal. The tobacco associations even had "scientific" proof that tobacco was safe. So much for that, eh?

I'm not saying that sugar is good for you. I'm saying HFCS is very bad for you. Much worse than sugar. And you can hardly avoid eating HFCS if you live in the United States. If you don't believe me, get up right now and look at the label on a loaf of bread. Go into your refrigerator and look at the salad dressing, pickles, ketchup, juice drinks, soda pop - look in your pantry at the canned goods. You'll find in HFCS in almost everything - even in foods you don't consider "sweet".

At the end of this article is a list of a few articles which have been published on the dangers of HFCS. After researching these and many more I've come to the conclusion that the ingestion of HFCS in the quantities that the American public is ingesting HFCS may be almost as bad for you as smoking cigarettes. There is evidence that HFCS contributes to a myriad of health problems from obesity, to type-2 diabetes, to high blood pressure, to elevated triglyceride levels (a precursor to high cholesterol), circulatory problems, liver problems, breast cancer and other diseases.

It's probably true that a small amount of HFCS, like many other substances, won't harm you. But consider this: One 20 ounce Coca-Cola contains about 17 teaspoons of HFCS. One tablespoon of Heinz Ketchup contains one teaspoon of HFCS. HFCS is in almost everything you eat. Just read the nutrition labels of the foods you consume and you'll be shocked.

If you live in the U.S.A., go to the grocery store and try to avoid buying foods that contain HFCS. You'll find it is very difficult to do. If you do find foods without HFCS you'll probably have to pay more. It might be worth it depending how valuable you consider your health. Organics and "natural" foods that come in jars and cans may not contain HFCS. But, sometimes even foods labeled "Organic" or "Natural" do contain HFCS. Figure that one out. There is nothing "Organic" or "Natural" about HFCS. Does it seem HFCS is stalking you? No pun intended.

And don't confuse HFCS with the corn syrup your mom used to use for baking. It's not the same. (Although today's Karo Syrup does contains some HFCS.). HFCS is a highly processed and engineered food that is chemically manipulated to extra sweet - and extra cheap. Using HFCS instead of sugar saves food processors a lot of money. It makes baked goods brown more evenly. It gives products a longer shelf-life. And it, I think, is making a lot of people in the United States sick. Or sicker.

There's nothing wrong with corn-on-the-cob or corn in the can or cornmeal or eating corn. HFCS does not occur naturally. You don't squeeze a few corn kernels and watch pure HFCS ooze out. HFCS is a highly-processed and chemically engineered product. Better living through chemistry. As they say.

There's not much we can do about this except to protest by not buying products which contain HFCS. That's going to be hard to do. It's in so many processed foods today. But someday, and not too far off, someone is going to blow the lid off the killer on the cob, and then you'll see food manufacturers jumping on the "No High Fructose Corn Syrup" bandwagon. Just like they're jumping all over the "whole grain" craze now. All those years Wonder made white bread, suddenly it's "whole grain". Why wasn't it whole grain to begin with? Because people didn't know any better and the bread companies sure weren't ready to educate them. Now people know better and you'd think the bread companies stumbled upon something amazingly new: whole grains. Hmmm, I think whole grains have been around a lot longer than Continental Baking Co.- the makers of "Wonder" bread - who just recently stumbled upon "whole grains". Amazing!

The end of HFCS may be coming soon. I hope. If enough of us protest the use of HFCS food manufacturers will have no choice but to remove this artificial substance from our foods. Then, in the spin of all spins, the food companies will make it look like they've discovered sugar. I can see it now: "Coca Cola contains NO High Fructose Corn Syrup - Now made with pure cane sugar". Can you picture that advertising campaign? Coca-Cola was made with "pure cane sugar" for decades until government subsidies and corn lobbies made it far more profitable for Coca-Cola to use HFCS than sugar. It's all about profit you know.

But how many more of us have to become chronically ill and how many of us will have to suffer before we, the people, and our health, becomes more important than business profits?  It's just too bad that millions have to suffer before necessary changes are made and HFCS is banned from our food. Maybe the end of HFCS won't come soon. Maybe Americans will just continue to get sick and life goes on? After all, they still sell cigarettes everywhere, even though they kill you. People are born every second. Always new customers coming along to replace the old ones. And the beat goes on.

You can't replace good health. Once you lose it, it's hard to get it back. Please look deeper into the effects of HFCS in your diet by reading some of the referenced articles included at the end of this "Rant". I'm sure, like me, you'll be amazed and shocked that HFCS has been allowed to become almost ubiquitous in our food supply.

I'm convinced that HFCS is responsible for a lot of the health problems which are have become nearly epidemic in the United States since the 1970's. I can only hope that the day will come when food manufacturers will get the message from angry consumers stop using HFCS in our foods. Once HFCS is gone we will have a healthier America. There's a killer on the cob and it's causing health problems all across America.

(A little note: If you're going to try to avoid HFCS by drinking diet soda you might want to think again. There is growing evidence that aspartame and Splenda® cause their own share of heath problems too - as bad as HFCS in some cases. But at least you can avoid aspartame and Splenda® much easier than you can avoid HFCS. But that's another Rant for another day.)

Tell us what you think - Please

List of articles and references about High Fructose Corn Syrup

Added August 20, 2010

In an independent study researchers at UCLA have found that table sugar (sucrose) and HFCS are handled differently by the body - and that cancer cells "slurp" up HFCS. You can read about that here. The beverage industry's response was this was just a "test-tube" study and is meangingless. It's all about the money. HFCS is still much less expensive than sugar (tariffs on sugar have been kept artificially high) and U.S. soft drink manufacturers are fighting to keep that few extra cents they make on each can of soda they sell. It's all about the money, your health doesn't matter.


Added May 24, 2006
PepsiCo, the company that makes Pepsi products (among other things) funded a study to show that HFCS does not promote obesity. You can read about that study here, however, you will notice the sample of people studied was just 30, not thousands like other studies which show a conclusive link between obesity, type II diabetes, and other chronic illnesses and HFCS. Obviously Pepsi has been hearing from concerned consumers and in order to maintain the status quo (i.e. save money by using HFCS instead of sugar) commissioned a study to prove HFCS is not any different than sugar. Well, we point out that tobacco companies commissioned dozens of studies to prove that smoking cigarettes did not cause cancer. And companies that produced products containing trans fat once claimed that trans fat was no more harmful than any other kind of fat. So, all of you who read this, please write to Pepsi, Coke, Kraft Foods, Heinz, Smuckers and other companies who make food products loaded with HFCS. Eventually we'll get HFCS out of our American food supply. It just takes time.