“Real Sugar” Throwback

Several months ago I went into the grocery store and saw some Pepsi products called throwback. When I looked closely at these limited time only products made with “real sugar”, I was both humored and saddened at the same time. Humored because I wondered when did something as simple as using real sugar in a product become a thing of the past that it’s considered a throwback? I was saddened because, when I considered the alternative, it was actually disturbing to me. I also blogged about the use of trans fats being used in profits before health. pepsi throw back We’ve all seen those commercials produced by the Corn Refiners Association; The High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) “Sweet Surprise” Ad campaign. In case you haven’t, the dialogue goes something like this:

(Girl offer’s her boyfriend a bite of her Popsicle)

Boy: I thought you loved me?

Girl: Take two bites.

Boy: It has HFCS in it

Girl: So?

Boy: You know what they say about it…

Girl: What? That it’s made from corn? Has the same calories as sugar and it’s fine in moderation.

(Boy takes and eats the Popsicle.)

So what’s the big deal? The commercial failed to mentioned is that HFCS is a highly refined, artificial product. Mercury, caustic soda, and hydrochloric acid are used in processing it. Manufacturers love it because:

  • it is both sweeter and cheaper than sugar (cheaper, partly because of generous federal subsidies and trade policies that encourage farmers to grow more corn)
  • it is not as susceptible to freezer burn, easily dissolves and has a longer shelf life

The reality is that HFCS is very different from Table sugar. Table sugar is a combination of fructose and glucose which are both simple sugars produced naturally by plants. The combination is called sucrose (not to be confused with sucralose, brand name Splenda, which is also artificial). Unlike sugar, corn syrup is mainly glucose produced from corn starch. There is no naturally occurring fructose in corn which is why corn isn’t sweet. But, in the 1950’s, scientists found a way to chemically and artificially convert the glucose (in corn) to fructose. The resulting concoction is 90% fructose (very sweet) that is mixed with corn syrup (not sweet), thus the high fructose corn syrup.

The problem with this super sweet, super cheap product is that:

Research has shown that “high-fructose corn syrup” goes directly to the liver, releasing enzymes that instruct the body to then store fat! This may elevate triglyceride (fat in blood) levels and elevate cholesterol levels. This fake fructose may slow fat burning and cause weight gain.

Of course, there are serious health consequences for not using natural sugar in moderation, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. But I believe that consuming too many foods and beverages containing HFCS is like taking the superhighway to compromised health…evident in the   increased incidence of childhood obesity and diabetes. Below is a video response to the Corn Refiner’s Ad campaign. (I’m not into name calling so please disregard the printed statement at the end of the video)

But how can you avoid it with there being so many foods containing HFCS? I gravitate to those foods that clearly advertise “No HFCS” on the label. I suggest checking the label…often times, it’s one of the first ingredient listed. Also, many products are meeting the demands of consumers by removing this ingredient. To get you started, here are a few:

  • Bread. Nature’s Own and Sara Lee does not contain high fructose corn syrup.
  • Pancakes. Aunt Jemima pancakes do not contain HFCS. Neither does Log Cabin pancake syrup.
  • Cereal. Any of the Kashi cereal brands do not contain high fructose corn syrup. Cheerios, Grape Nuts and Life cereal are also good options.
  • Condiments. Any of the Annie’s Naturals products and Welch’s fruit spreads are free of HFCS. Heinz and Hunts ketchup and Hellman’s mayonnaise are also good options, but you may have to look for the ones clearly marked advertising “No HFCS”
  • Ice cream. Breyer’s All Natural ice creams are free of HFCS . Many of the Ben and Jerry’s flavors also meet this requirements, although a couple of the ones that contain candy or chocolate may have minor amounts.
  • Chocolate. Most Cadbury and Dove chocolates are free of HFCS. Surprisingly many Hershey’s chocolate also does not have HFCS
  • Applesauce. Mott’s Natural Applesauce is the only main brand applesauce free from HFCS (although there are plenty of organic options – which are better for you anyway, since conventional apples are high in pesticides).
  • Soda. Although these are more difficult to find, lesser known soda brands like China Cola and Blue Sky soft drinks don’t contain HFCS.
  • Pasta sauce. Any of the Ragu flavors and most of the Classico brands will not contain HFCS.

Have you ever thought about HFCS in foods? Do you check the labels before purchasing food items?

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34 thoughts on ““Real Sugar” Throwback

  1. Michell

    OMGeee Hope!! I’m patting myself on the back because ALL the products on your list are the products I use(with the exception of soda), it comes nowhere near our house! We are a family of water drinkers! if I want something sweet to drink, I’ll mix some honey and lemons with water and VOILA’…lemonade! The.best.ever! Lol! Seriously though, I started taking a serious look at my health after my mother passed away five years ago from a rare autoimmune disease. After that, my family and I have taken steps to improve our health, i.e.(no artificial sweeteners, drinking water instead of sodas/juices, exercising, etc.) It is sad that our foods/drinks contain so many artificial ingredients that are harmful to our bodies. We as parents MUST take the steps to ensure that our families are getting nutritious meals(no one else is obviously going to do it). You literally have to grow your own food and/or shop at organic stores. We had a farm a few years back and we grew our own cattle, fruits/veggies and chickens/hens for eggs…IKR, can.you.envision.that!! Lol! 😀 Thanks for sharing Hope, may we all take the steps to get our health up to par! Have a wonderful week my friend!
    Michell recently posted…Michell’s Weekly Pearl…My Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      You deserved that pat on the back…and a huge one. It’s hard to keep up with all the unhealthy shortcut s that are being made with our foods. I think it’s great that you all lived on a farm.lol I can’t see it though :) Thank you so much Michell

  2. Sherelle

    Thanks for this information Hope! I’m trying to eat better, and this list of foods you’ve provided is a great start! I’ve seen these commercials, and the way they advertise HFCS like it’s a new vegetable or something. I really have to start reading labels at the grocery store. Usually when I go I’m in a hurry to get out.
    Sherelle recently posted…Media Mondays: Are You Sleepy?My Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      I laugh in disbelief when I see those commercials. Of course I’m not surprised by it because the company the makes HFCS are the ones putting out the commercials. I’m glad you find the list useful. Baby steps Sherelle.. that’s a good place to start

  3. Tamara

    Thanks for writing it out like that. I’m a fan of real sugar in moderation. What has happened in our country with food scares me so much. My friends overseas are completely flabbergasted by us and so am I. I try to stick to organic food as much as possible, as well as products that don’t use GMOs. I find it very hard, which is sad.
    Tamara recently posted…The Hollow.My Profile

  4. kimberly

    It’s crazy, isn’t it?
    You really do have to read every label.
    It’s amazing how many things they tuck in that you’d never think of.
    It’s this very thing that started me cooking nearly everything we eat from scratch. I can make just about everything myself now. It takes more time, but saves a lot of money and I know what we’re eating. It matters.

    Of course, once we wiped out the chemicals in our foods I also started looking at our body products and cleaners and and and. Now, I’ve learned how to make all that, too.

    Thanks for getting the word out. Have a great week.
    kimberly recently posted…At Work.My Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      Amazing Kimberly! I applaud your determination to make sure you and your family eat healthy. It’s not easy always cooking or making foods from scratch, but it’s definitely better. I need to learn how to cook more foods. Also natural products are just as important. Thank you!

  5. Angela Gilmore

    Awesome post! I am definitely going to share. The commercial I remember is two moms at the park, one mom asking the other mom if she was really allowing her child to have HFCS and it went pretty much the same way, the person who was against it didn’t know why they were against it. It’s good marketing because it makes people question what they’ve heard about HFCS, I’m glad you posted this to help clear it up. I never eat fake sugar, but I work with someone who used to work for NutraSweet and he’s always trying to tell me how there’s is nothing wrong with it.
    Angela Gilmore recently posted…Have you ever memed your Child?My Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      I remember that commercial also. I agree it’s good marketing…but also false advertising. Sometimes because the negative effects are delayed, people tend to blow it off (kinda like your NutraSweet friend) even though independent research says otherwise. Thanks for stopping by Angela

  6. The Dose of Reality

    Omg…BREAD??? I can honestly say it never dawned on me to check my bread for HFCS. UGH!!!! I’m beyond glad you wrote this post. It is such a good reminder that we are purposefully putting such junk in our bodies in modern times. It’s really awful and if we want to combat it, you have to be very thoughtful and meticulous about what you are buying. THANKS!!
    The Dose of Reality recently posted…“Arie” Ready To Find Out The Big Winner?!My Profile

  7. Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady

    OMG Hope! This is so amazingly helpful. While I was reading, I was shaking my head! Then I made the decision to do as you stated and start checking labels. Then you gave us the get started list….AWESOME. Thank up you so much, there were so many regularly used times on that list to help get started. Often times, ppl give good at advice, but you provided the helpful kick start!

    Pinning 😉
    Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady recently posted…How to Make the Most of Your SITS Feature DayMy Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      Thank you Joi. Once you read the labels once or twice you’ll know exactly what alternatives to pick up next time. There a many foods out there that does not contain HFCS, but compared to the products that do, they are few and far between so it’s good to have a good base of where to start. I think I might even add a couple more popular foods to the list that I forgot to include. Thanks for the positive feedback.

  8. Nellie

    awesome list. I am super high aware of HFCS (I think its because my bestie is a SUPER anti hfcs freak of nature) :) But I still tend to have it in my juice when she isn’t looking. I know its terrible for you! I watch for Ketchup like you said, Its in there too, oh and Peanut Butter! I try not to give HFCS to the kids because I read one time about it affecting Brain Chemistry so I don’t take any chances.
    Nellie recently posted…Blink Fitness – Brooklyn’s New Fitness PhenomenonMy Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      Good for you Nellie, and your friend.lol. The stuff is almost everywhere. I think if people in general are more conscious about their choices, having it once in a while may not be that harmful. But everyday in almost every food? it’s sad that the food industry has come to that.

  9. Rum Punch Drunk

    Thankfully I don’t drink any of these types of cans/fizzy/carton drinks. But in general I’m very careful what I put into my stomach.

    There is so much negative/bad ingredients in our foods we can almost never keep up with it but it is worth reading the labels, if not for yourself, for those who you are feeding it to.
    And what always upsets me is the fact that organic foods which are supposed to be healthier are just so expensive to buy these days. Thanks for the info as I can now tell others :) Very interesting facts in the video too. It makes you think.
    Rum Punch Drunk recently posted…MetamorphosisMy Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      Thanks Rum Punch. I’m glad that you’re already careful about what you eat. Organic foods are very expensive…which is unfortunate because people buy what they can afford.

  10. Yum Yucky

    you may be too young to remember, but back in the day I took the Pepsi Challenge. I failed the taste test, of course. I picked Coca Cola. Whoops! Have you heard of Zevia soda? It’s sweetened with Stevia instead of sugar/HFCS. It’s pretty decent in taste, but still can’t justify buying any kind of soda on the regular. I’d rather drink water or tea.
    Yum Yucky recently posted…Dressing room pics!My Profile

    1. Hope@DefiningHope Post author

      Thank you Josie for that compliment of me being too young to remember :). lol. Too funny about you picking coke. I’ve never heard of Zevia, but I think that’s a great alternative. Stevia is probably the only and best natural alternative at this point. There really is no win with regular soda drinking. Even with better sweeteners. If the sugar don’t get you, all the carbonation..phosphoric acids will.


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