Friday, July 25, 2008

Eliminate High Fructose Corn Syrup from your Diet in 11 Easy Steps

Earlier this week, NY Times blogger Tara Parker-Pope posted "Does Fructose Make you Fat?" which highlights the results of a small study conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. While the study is small it adds to the growing body of evidence that corn syrup is at least in part to blame for rising obesity rates in the United States. If you check it out be sure to read the comments too as many contributors site additional studies with even more compelling results.

We stopped buying products with trans fats or partially hydrogenated anything over a year ago. Then earlier this year we eliminated artificial sweeteners from our diet (with the exclusion of Splenda in my coffee - I've tried but I'm just not there yet). Most recently we have eliminated all products which include corn syrup. The latter was by far the most difficult. Not because the foods which contain it are so great, but because it is in absolutely everything. For weeks I spent countless hours with a three year old running rampant in the aisles, as I checked the labels of the products we regularly used and looked for suitable replacements. Of course the easiest thing to do is take Michael Pollan's advice and "Eat Real Food". However, with a three year old boy and a husband brought up on a mid-western diet, this is easier said than done. Here is a list of the things we've cut out and what we've found to replace them. Hope they help.

11 Corn Syrup Offenders and Replacements that are Better Tasting and Presumably Better for You

1. Soda, Energy Drinks, Electrolyte Drinks and Juice Drinks (including most flavors of Snapple, Capri Sun and Sunny D)

Replacement: Add fresh squeezed or organic juice to seltzer. The Freen loves this and thinks he is actually drinking soda.

2. American made Candy and Chocolate (sadly this includes M&M's)

Replacement: Yummy Earth Organic Candy and most organic chocolates which are becoming more readily available - Newman's Own line is great especially the chocolate mint cups although the caramel products have "organic corn syrup solids" which I have to think are just as bad. Most Nestle Toll House Chocolate Morsels are made with sugar.

3. Store Bought and Store Made Bread and Baked Goods (While high fructose corn syrup is actually the third ingredient on Wonder Bread almost all other grocery store bought white and whole grain breads and buns have it somewhere in the ingredients list.)

Replacement: Artisan, organic or home baked breads and baked goods. The A&P and Food Emporium carry the Ace Bakery Brand which does not contain corn syrup and offer several organic choices. You will pay a premium for it, but it is worth it. It goes bad more quickly so it is often on sale so I buy it up then and freeze it. If you're up for baking both Arrow Head Mills and Dr. Oetker have great organic mixes and base ingredients.

4.Fruit Roll Ups and Fruit Snacks (aka solidified fruit flavored corn syrup)

Replacement: Well start with real fruit. However my son has recently started asking for a fruit-roll up in his lunch because other kids have them. For those of you facing similar demands you can make fruit roll-ups at home or try FruitaBu Organic Smooshed Fruit Twirls.

5. Frozen pancakes and bagels (We had switched to Eggo minis because they didn't have partially hydrogenated oils but then once we eliminated corn syrup they were out too.)

Replacement: Use the Joy of Cooking pancake or griddle cake recipe to make mini pancakes, let them cool in the fridge, freeze them, and microwave as per store bought instructions. You can even substitute organic ingredients.

6. Cereal (Even Rice Krispies, Special K and most natural cereal bars)

Replacement: Honey Nut Cheerios are made with real sugar, Annies Bunnies and Kashi are all safe bets. The number of choices is definitely growing.

7. Yogurt and Gogurt and many of the kid branded yogurts are the worst offenders.

Replacement: You can make your own here too but I've yet to buy a yogurt maker despite the fact that it would pay for itself with all the money I spend on the stuff. So for the less ambitious there are great alternatives including Stonyfield Yogurt which uses naturally milled sugars and there are several brands of plain yogurt which can be mixed with honey and fresh fruit. The Freen and I shared a fat free Fage greek yogurt mixed with organic blueberry honey this morning. If you are looking for single serving kids lunch portion to compete with the Dora and Diego branded varieties Dannon has released an All Natural line.

8. Aunt Jemima and other non-natural Maple syrup (aka maple flavored corn syrup)

Replacement: 100% Vermont Maple Syrup. The Freen didn't like it at first (how sad is that) so I actually mixed real the fake stuff with the real for a while to get him used to the taste of real maple syrup.

9. Heinz Ketchup and other store bought brands including Hunts.

Replacement: Heinz has an organic version although the Annie's Naturals and Muir Glen are both less watery. (also note when travelling overseas regular Heinz is made with sugar)

10. Hershey's Chocolate syrup and Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix

Replacement: We buy pre-made organic soy chocolate milk, like Zen Soy which I mix with regular organic milk. If you prefer not to use Soy milk there is AH!Laska Organic Chocolate Syrup and Santa Cruz also makes one. For cocoa we use Ghiradelli cocoa powder.

11. Ice Cream, ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches and popsicles particularly anything with crunchies of chocolate pieces. We were big fans of Edys Slow Churned but it just isn't food so it had to go.

Replacement: Most store bought natural or vanilla bean ice cream is made with just cream, milk and sugar. We are lucky to have Bellvale Farms Creamery and Dairy nearby which makes the best all natural ice cream and provides spectacular views of Warwick Valley but for those who aren't as lucky Breyers Natural Vanilla with a few Ghiradelli 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips or Santa Cruz Organic Chocolate Syrup does the trick. While making ice cream at home requires an ice cream maker, popsicles are very easy with organic fruit juices. For ice cream sandwiches we use Dr. Oetker's cookie mix and make organic chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches. Yum!


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Green Mom Finds

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, thank you. I was just discussing with a friend over the weekend the fact that many europeans eat just as much asAmericans, its just that they eat more real food and its so much better for them.

Thanks for the REAL VT maple syrup shout's so good, isn't it? for anyone that hasn't tried it..go ahead and you shall soon see. Only problem is...our maple trees are threatened by climate change and are one of the species that will move north as our climate warms!

Anonymous said...

This topic is gaining momentum, thanks for the great post! It is really eye-opening to see that they add HFCS to EVERYTHING.

I'm glad to hear of a replacement for soft drinks. I've cut out HFCS totally out of my toddler's diet, but soft drinks are my one vice.

We just discovered real maple syrup, too! For a treat, we swirl a little bit into our plain yogurt(we buy Straus Family Organic) along with some natural granola and fresh berries. Sooo good! It is also a great sweetener in oatmeal, or any warm cereal. And it doesn't take much to get the job done.

Emily: another guess at why Europeans stay lean is that they take so much longer to eat their meals, so they actually eat less at a sitting. We Americans are obsessed with fast, fast, fast! We've been trying to slow down our eating in our household. Try to take ten seconds between each bite...doesn't sound like much, but it is hard!

Christine said...

Store-bought bread is the hardest item to get sans HFCS for us. In the winter, I like to just make my own sandwich bread. Also, I use maple syrup to sweeten plain yogurt. It's super good. Good tips on the chocolate syrup and candy. I shop at Meijer and many of their store-brand items are made with real sugar.

TinaB said...

I just found your blog--awesome article! ☺

Unknown said...

Hi I just also found this post.I am hoping to find products with no corn syrup as well as a lower calorie in the product. What is the calorie amount of some of these products.

Unknown said...

what is the calorie content on these items without corn syrup.

vsabina334 said...

I have read that "plain" table sugar is about 50% HFCS. So when a label reads sugar as an ingredient are we still getting HFCS?