For a few weeks now I’ve been off Pepsi. That surprises you? What, you thought moose prefer Coke? News in recent years about what an effective toilet bowl cleaner it is shocked me but didn’t stop me: who could afford to waste a good Pepsi on that! Besides, my pipes could probably benefit from a good scouring.
But recent pictures on Facebook with packets of sugar overwhelming the poor soda and warnings about drinking my way to diabetes finally got to me. A 12 oz. bottle of Pepsi contains 41 grams of sugar and 150 calories. Since this exceeds both recommended limits for daily consumption by the American Heart Association — 30 grams per day and 120 calories — stopping should be a no brainer, which suits me just fine. So what are my fellow Americans not using when they choose to eat 4 times as much sugar as we should? We all need more won’t power.
Next morning I was shopping for some pancake syrup. One brand bannered that it contained no High Fructose Corn Syrup. They wanted me to pay 50 cents extra as thanks for them leaving it out. That started me to wondering: should I be eating and drinking that stuff?
No surprise that the top spot on Bing was snagged by the Corn Refiners Association and is replete with experts quoting scientific studies and stating that all complaints against HFCS are myths. “There is no scientific evidence that high fructose corn syrup is to blame for obesity and diabetes.”
Yet many sites claim there are many research studies proving just that. One site written by Holly Klamer, MS, RD notes that “the definition of sugar, or what exactly is added sugar, is not well-defined or consistent in research studies.” That could explain why one study proves a point that another disproves.
Broose as jury of one: I don’t know enough about nutrition and chemistry to tell which research really proves what. But when friends who really dig into these all agree that HFCS is harmful, I am biased in that directionl
The CRA site argues that the 2 commentators who started all the fuss in 2004, Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina and George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, have since realized the error of their claims and now believe that “All sugar you eat is the same…” To prove that, the site gives this chart, which proves that they’re not exactly the same!
— Table sugar = 50% fructose and 50% glucose
— Honey = 52% fructose and 48% glucose
— HFCS-42 = 42% fructose + 58% glucose
— HFCS-55 = 55% fructose + 45% glucose
Thus, David Katz, M.D. claims “The notion that a 5 percent differential in fructose content has much of anything to do with current public health ills is more than a little far-fetched (“Perils of a Sugar-Coated Scapegoat,” Huffington Post, 6/4/2012).
Broose’s jury: When I think about the amazing production of honey by bees, in all its intricate created details, my gut instinct is that is what the healthiest percentages should be. My money should be on honey. Yet I find myself bringing home the pancake syrup, wishing I could afford the 100% maple.
“When high-fructose corn syrup and sugar are absorbed into our bloodstream, the two are indistinguishable by the body” adds Joan Salge Blake, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. on the CRA site.
Not so, say critics of HFCS:
1) “White corn starch processed from genetically modified corns is made to yield glucose under high temperature. The glucose is then converted into fructose. Being a highly processed sweetener, HFCS is synthetic! A Study by Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (2009) even revealed that some of this syrup is manufactured using mercury-grade caustic soda.”
2) “Refined HFCS is metabolized by your liver and does not cause the pancreas to release insulin the way the body normally does. Thus it converts to fat more than any other sugar.”
3) HFCS “easily results in overeating because it fails to stimulate leptin, the hormone that triggers chemical signals to tell the brain your stomach is full, like other foods containing regular refined sugar do.”
4) “What is even more disturbing is, when HFCS is heated/cooked, it becomes contaminated with hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). And when HMF breaks down in the human body, they become even more toxic than HMF itself.”
All myths, the CRA site claims, HFCS “contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives. It also meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for use of the term ‘natural.’” When we see how games are played with the term “organic” and hear that a manufacturer can claim a product has nothing as long as there is less than 1% of it, I think we all know how reassuring that is!
Broose’s jury: Eat foods as close to their truly natural state and eat them before they spoil. So don’t eat me because I’ve been spoiled a long time!
All agree that we should dramatically cut our sugar intake. Prov. 25:16 advises to eat only a little honey. In addition, I have purposed to avoid products with HFCS. I will have to replace items currently in my frig — ketchup, strawberry preserves, and who knows what else — with healthier choices.
So I’ll drink to that … a tall glass of water.
Fun Fact: Moose need to consume 9,770 calories per day. Jealous you can’t eat all that without becoming a fat pig? Hah, would you be happy with our diet called herbivore (plants and vegetation)? Our name moose comes from the Algonquian Eastern Abnaki “moz” which literally means “twig eater.” Because of our height we like to dine on tall grasses and shrubs. In winter, grub is shrubs and pinecones, and after clearing away snow with our large hooves, we munch the exposed mosses and lichens. In summer you’ll find us in water slurping up plants both at and below the surface.