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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Green plan: What items contain high fructose corn syrup in my pantry

Dr. Pepper contains HFCS
A few years ago, I watched an episode of Oprah (used to watch it every night before I had my son) where Dr. Oz talked about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Dr. Oz gave a tip that anyone who wanted to get healthy and lose weight needed to eliminate HFCS from their diet. I ended up buying the current Dr. Oz book at the time and read through the tips are started to watch and read labels. Along the way (and a baby later) we got out of practice and fell back into our bad fructose loving ways.

As part of my green plan for 2011 courtesy of Practically Green, my first goal was to tackle my pantry and discover what items contain HFCS and switch them out for items that don't contain it.

Why should we avoid HFCS? This is the answer that Practically Green gives:
Reducing your intake of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may reduce your chances of weight gain and corresponding health problems. A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.
Because high-fructose corn syrup is a cheaper alternative to other sweeteners and used as a preservative, it is prevalent in many foods ranging from sodas to cereals to snack bars. Just do a quick audit to see what you have that has high-fructose corn syrup -- you may be surprised.

Enough reason for me to go through my pantry and try to eliminate it from my family diet. One of the most important things to do for your family is to read labels. If HFCS if in the top six, don't buy the item. I am so extreme that I won't buy any items with HFCS in it.

What I found over a few weeks was astonishing! The following items in our pantry/refrigerator contained this nasty substance: yogurt, jelly/jams, soda, graham crackers, bread, cereal, cereal bars, ketchup, instant oatmeal and pancake mix.

I'm happy to say, I have found healthier options to these items but it always has not been easy.

  • Graham crackers are a toddler staple so I was pretty sad when I read the label and saw it contained HFCS. No joke, I spent 20 minutes looking at the labels on graham crackers only to give up and buy some at Whole Foods. 
  • We switched our ketchup from Heinz to Hunts because Hunts doesn't contain HFCS. 
  • Last summer I used organic produce to make homemade freezer jam
  • When I don't have time to make my own bread, I read the labels carefully at the store. This will take time and will be frustrating but I found some at Costco that is on our regular buying rotation.
  • Trader Joe's is a great resource for cereal, cereal bars, instant oatmeal and pancake mix. In their private line, they have pledged not to use HFCS
  • What I haven't found at Trader Joe's, I have found something at Whole Foods or the local natural foods store to replace it. Whole Foods has a line of sodas made from Stevia.  
Do yourself and your family a favor and go through your pantry and refrigerator. Start looking at labels if you haven't. It's a gradual process but it's the little things in life like reading labels that will help you sleep easier at night.

UPDATE: I discovered there was HFCS on Thursday evening in my son's no name Ibuprofen. Why is there HFCS in that item?



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