October 16

Word is getting out about high-fructose corn syrup

15  comments

coke-sign.jpg
After the beating I took on the Dallas-New England football game we all headed to Ball’s Hamburgers to drown our sorrows in a bun-free giant hickory burger with bacon and cheese. I noticed the above sign taped to the back of the cash register.
A year or so back I posted on the fact that Mexican Americans love the taste of Coca Cola made with real sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup and will pay a premium for the stuff imported from Mexico rather than the HFCS-filled US made products. Looks like word is getting around everywhere.
Not that pure sugar is all that much better than HFCS, but it’s nice to see that people are at least noticing. I hope that soon HFCS will be the new trans fats.


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  1. “I hope that soon HFCS will be the new trans fats.”
    I hope so too! The more I learn about HFCS the more determined I am to stay away from it!

  2. When I was in Asia (weighing 270+ and not watching carbs), we went to McDonalds where you could get the old fries. The ones fried in tallow, not cottonseed oil + beef flavor. The ones that PETA can’t eat. And you know what. They were better. Not that fries are a great idea, nutritionally (though maybe better than a full sugar coke), but that was the end of my fry consumption in the US. Travel abroad might mean an indulgence though.
    Hey Max–
    There is no doubt that the old fries made with beef tallow were superior. They tasted better, and, even though you still got the same amount of carb, you didn’t get the nasty trans fats that you do now.
    If you limit yourself to fries consumed abroad only, you’ll probably not suffer much serious damage.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  3. Why would you bet against the New England Patriots THIS year?!
    Because I’m stupid I suppose. Or a glutton for punishment. I’ll probably bet against them this coming week as well. They’re a 17.5 point favorite over Miami. It may be 20 points by game time.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  4. There’s only one thing better than Mexican Coca Cola (which I had once at a Mexican place in San Francisco)–Dublin Dr. Pepper, which is also made with cane sugar in DP’s original hometown of Dublin, TX. I’d heard about it and was sufficiently intrigued to purchase a case for sixteen bucks. It was awesome. I no longer drink soda but if I could have one bottle of DDP a year it would be enough.
    Don’t buy it for me. I have enough vices already.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  5. Dr. Mike, I’m currently reading Michael Pollan’s ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’. Considering the huge stranglehold that corn has on our economy, it would be amazing if we could get the public to dump HFCS. I’d love to see it, but it will be a lot harder than getting rid of trans fats, in my opinion.
    I agree. It will be harder because people are more willing to buy into removing any kind of fat than they are to buy into removing a sweetener.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  6. My favorite non event health study, WHI, has been analyzed by Sandy Szwarc at Junk Food Science. You may wish to check out the \\
    Hi Marilyn–
    Your comment was somehow truncated.
    Best–
    MRE

  7. Mike,
    do you think “we’d” be better off had the food industry just used sucrose instead of HFCS? I’m certainly on the HFCS-is-nasty-stuff bandwagon, but it’s hard to see an appreciable difference between it and sucrose.
    Of course, I caught your earlier post in which you did the math on HFCS-55 compared to sucrose, but if someone is drinking that much regular soda, they’re in trouble period, since excess glucose will be converted to triglycerides, too.
    I don’t know what the percentages of fructose and glucose are in “organic cane juice,” but to me, it seems that singling HFCS out allows food manufacturers to start fooling the public with “hippie” sugar. (“Hey, we don’t use HFCS–we use organic sugar!”)
    No doubt you agree that any sugar consumed in high quantities is a bad idea, but I was curious as to your thoughts on whether Coke drinkers would actually be better off if it were sweetened with sucrose–or say, turbinado, evaporated can juice invert syrup, or granular fruit grape juice concentrate? (Ha!)
    Keep in mind that every time I broach this topic, someone misunderstands my point and chastises me for defending HFCS. It’s just the opposite–what I’m seeing is that the more educated the public is specifically about HFCS, the more savvy food manufacturers exploit this by making sure HFCS isn’t on the ingredients label, even if a caloric sweetener is still used. This gives some consumers the impression it’s a far healthier product, and it’s hard
    to believe that’s the case.
    What think?
    Keep up the great work.
    Adam
    Hey Adam–
    I think you’re right on the money. All sugar is bad, and focusing on HFCS sends people bolting to other more ‘healthful’ sugars, which is a real oxymoron.
    For Coke drinkers who drink the occasional Coke it doesn’t really matter whether it’s sweetened with HFCS or sucrose; for Coke drinkers who guzzle it in huge quantities it probably doesn’t matter either because they are in trouble with the total amount of fructose they get whether it comes from HFCS or sucrose. It’s probably a little worse for them to get the extra 10-20 grams of fructose daily from the HFCS that they wouldn’t get from sucrose, but in the great scheme of things, it’s probably not that much different.
    It had never occurred to me that all the anti-HFCS hype might in some way make sucrose itself seem healthful, but it looks like that’s what’s happening. I just saw a TV commercial last night for Sugar in the Raw, which I assume is minimally processed sugar. If so, this stuff might have a few more micronutrients, but would still have the insulin-raising, health-destroying capacity of plain old refined table sugar.
    Yeesh.
    Cheers–
    Mike

  8. I have to say, I don’t know if pure sugar is really any better that HFCS. I read an article not too long ago that said there wasn’t a link between HFCS and obesity. It reported that the fructose levels in high fructose corn syrup could be compared to the levels in normal table sugar. I think we just have to remember that over-indulging in any kind of sweets or fats can lead to health problems.
    Hi Hsa–
    I pretty much agree. But there is a little more fructose in HFCS, and because of some of its other properties HCFS is used in foods in ways that sugar couldn’t be, and so is found in more foods than would be sugar if HFCS didn’t exist.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  9. Personally, I just don’t understand the fuss over HFCS – it’s not that much different that real sugar, and either one is bad for you taken in large amounts.
    Hi Jenn–
    It’s true; they are both bad. But HFCS is a little worse.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  10. I love Mexican coke and grew up on the stuff. We always swore that it was less sweet than the American coke and that’s why it tasted better. I don’t know how it’s packaged currently but back in the day, the only way to get it was in those small glass bottles. I’ve always thought that soda packaged in plastic and cans doesn’t taste very good which makes it easy for me to pass up even the diet varieties.
    I think that the difference is that just about the time they started using HFCS they started using plastic bottles. I’m not certain about this, it’s just a thought.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  11. I gotta second that comment about the original sugar-based Doctor Pepper. A better tasting pop has never been invented. If I were whisked in a time machine, back to the hometown of my youth ( early ’60’s), the first thing I would do is ride my bike to the edge of town where existed the only vending machine ( at a truck stop ) that had the marvelous stuff, and in bottles. We’d go get this stuff on a hot summer day, and felt we were drinking some forbidden fruit, made only for adults.
    Makes me almost want to try some, but not quite.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  12. Soda Pop, NAh! BEER, (and pizza) that is what I miss the most of all the stuff that I have given up following the low carb lifestyle!

  13. Hi MRE-
    I agree that HFCS is found in more foods than sugar, because (like you said) sugar cannot be used in the same way. I think these types of foods are overly-processed to begin with and should be avoided. In terms of sugary drinks, I just feel that both HFCS and sugar should be consumed in moderation, and have seen no proof that HFCS is worse than sugar.
    I agree that in small amount HFCS is no worse than sugar, but in the people who tend to over consume the small difference in fructose between the two begins to add up and have an effect.
    Cheers–
    MRE

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