Setting health goals for 2018? You’re not alone – especially if consuming less sugar is one of your priorities. It’s commonly accepted that many foods contain added sugar and that too many Americans consume too many calories because of it.
And that’s really the key idea to remember – it’s an issue of quantity. Too much sugar in a diet can contribute to multiple health concerns, and it doesn’t matter if it’s cane sugar, beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or even honey. Reducing sugar intake from every source is a worthy goal indeed.
According to Registered Dietitian, Amber Pankonin, the bottom line is that HFCS, sugar and organic sugar all have calories from carbohydrates. One is not better than the other.
Still, the “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” label persists at incorrectly implying that other sugars are a healthier choice. The reason? Marketing. Consumer demand. Fads. And internet mixed with information and misinformation.
Some attribute our country’s obesity epidemic to an increase of fructose consumption, but research by Dr. Timothy Carr, with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, shows an overall increase of calories from carbohydrates and fat as the culprit. Read more at https://ianrnews.unl.edu/unl-research-fructose-not-culprit-obesity-epidemic and https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-12-130.
For me, consuming less sugar looks more like taming my sweet tooth rather than switching sweeteners. It’s skipping high calorie soft drinks altogether, whether sweetened with HFCS or sugar, and choosing water and unsweetened tea instead. It’s grabbing an apple instead of a cookie. It’s overall awareness of an appropriate amount of nutrition verses overindulgence.
However, a few sweets sprinkled with some common sense is just fine, too.
As a Nebraska corn farmer, I have a few more thoughts when I see HFCS on the ingredient list. It’s possible that some of the foods I enjoy that include this sweetener could have been made from corn that was grown on our own farm. As American farmers, we’re experts at raising corn, and I like that it’s a local choice. It’s also economical and easier on my grocery budget. It presents advantages like stability and consistency in some foods. Additionally, we find raising corn on our farm is sustainable as well, as evidenced by our practices that prioritize water and soil conservation, healthy soil nutrient levels and resource efficiency.
By all means, move forward in your health goal of reducing sugar intake in 2018. Feel free to reduce your use of HFCS – but do so right along with reducing overall sugar consumption in the big picture.