Combat Babe mentioned a thing in a recent post about sodas and sugar free drinks, and it reminded me that I’ve never posted about my new-ish intolerance for high fructose corn syrup here in the blog. I grew up never noticing a problem with it, and I didn’t realize until after I returned from Germany just how much high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is used in food and drink here.
It’s sweeter than real sugar, and food manufacturers use it by the truckload because it’s also less expensive than real sugar. It’s also linked by various studies to cause increased desire to keep eating, and it has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. For me, the effect is much more immediate: terrible, percolating heartburn so severe that it makes my eyes water.
This isn’t something I ever noticed before I lived in Germany. While I lived in Regensburg, I would routinely have Coca Cola and Oreo cookies at my desk while I was working. When I came back to the US, I realized almost immediately that if I drank a regular bottle of Coke, the burning would start almost immediately. A few tests proved that Coke Life (in the green bottle) and Coke Zero were both fine, it’s the red bottles specifically. Even more damning, I found out that if I have any cola at all made with real sugar, I don’t experience any burning. This applies to both red-label Coke from Mexico and the kosher Coke they sell around the Jewish high holy days.
After I figured out that it was the high fructose corn syrup, I started to notice it in everything- even Oreos, which are essentially vegan, still use the processed HFCS instead of real sugar. For real sugar, I have to go to non-Oreo brands now. (Or, you know, I could stop eating cookies. NOT gonna happen.)
Even more frustrating is the fact that I can actually tell the difference in flavor- HFCS might be sweeter than real sugar, but it doesn’t taste better. At least, not to me. The Coke in Germany tastes significantly better than the Coke here. Oreo cookies in Germany are the same story- better there where real sugar is in play. It turns out that HFCS isn’t used in the European Union all that much because it isn’t manufactured in significant quantity there. In the US, we’ve got HFCS to spare because the government subsidizes farmers to produce more and more corn.
There is some good news on the horizon, though- many major brands in the US are starting to pay more attention to what’s under the label and certain artificial sweeteners and chemicals are being tossed aside. There are lots of food items now without HFCS. Pillsbury has reworked most of their Ready-To-Bake cookie doughs to be free of high fructose corn syrup.
Sounds sweet to me.
Do you have any food allergies?
Editor’s Note: I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers. I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?