Soda Pop Sluts: Take Two
In my book Unfrosted, I make no secret of my loathing for HFCS and processed food. However, in the interest of fair play, let's examine the latest goings-on regarding high fructose corn syrup. Sometimes it's hard to spot manipulation, by virtue of its definition, but for the truly paranoid like me, there's rumblings in the processed food industry. They're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Their golden child, HFCS, has been beaten to a pulp by the current schoolyard heroes: foodies, chefs, organic farmers, nutritionists, Michael Pollan, me. When everyone from morning show hosts to network news and even Facebook pages tout the evils of HFCS, it's well known. Raven's definition of irrelevant and uninteresting is when news hits the mainstream media but at least it's put a spotlight on HFCS. So they're fighting back: The Corn Refiners Association has poured more than $30 million into ads to prop up their baby. Unfortunately, more people have seen the parodies on youtube.com than the ads themselves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYiEFu54o1E&feature=related . There's also a lot of scientists and nutritionists, even Marion Nestle, who wrote "What to Eat", who are saying there's no discernible difference between HFCS and sugar.
Then, ConAgra, possibly the biggest processed food producer in the world, along with Kraft, Pepsico and a host of others, are now making products with sugar, rather than HFCS, bending to market pressure. Hunt's ketchup, Gatorade, Kraft salad dressing, Wheat Thins and many more are now reformulated and even though it costs them more, they aren't passing that cost on to consumers, according to Michael Locascio, ConAgra exec. (This is no time to dive into sugar tariffs and corn subsidies and why sugar costs more, Goldman Sachs, lobbyists, black hearts and gold bars, another post, perhaps.) Isn't it nice they care so much about their customers? Hmm. When the sharks climb into the boat, you have to look at what's in the water. In that sea of doubt, there's a couple of new clinical studies about HFCS. To wit:
When a person's liver is deciding what to do with glucose, it has options: use it for energy, convert it into triglycerides or store it as fat. A 2008 study by Elizabeth Parks at University of Texas SW Med Center and another by Peter Havel at UC Davis found that HFCS consumers showed an increase in intra-abdominal fat, the kind that embeds itself between tissues in organs, is less sensitive to insulin and creates elevated blood levels of lipids, or LDL, bad cholesterol. So much for ConAgra's kinder gentler reformulation.
That's enough research for me, and probably for you. It backs up what I've always said: eat natural stuff, even sugar. Yes, sugar is refined too, but not in the manner of high fructose corn syrup. When there's this much controversy, go back to the smoke and fire analogy. Don't eat HFCS and processed food!! As always, the caveat is the same however: knock off the sweet stuff period. Sugar and HFCS are the same when it comes to weight gain. Put down the Coke and pick up the water.
That's the end of Take Two, and there won't be a three on this one. Take care of yourself.