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Say ‘No’ To High Fructose Corn Syrup

It’s not fair the way our taste buds are set up. Why is it that bagels, cookies, and ice cream are much more tempting and hyper-palatable than nutrient-dense, whole foods? Prioritizing your health would be much easier if Poptarts were a superfood, but unfortunately, they are not. 

Our bodies have evolved over thousands of years to love carbs. Before we had bagel shops and pizzerias at every corner, humans lived through extreme scarcity when it came to food. It can be hard to imagine now that we can order food using an app on our phones, but there was a time when humans had to hunt or gather everything they ate. 

This is in large part why our taste buds evolved to have such an affinity for calorie-dense foods that are high in carbs. This was our body’s way of signaling to us the foods which we should prioritize when calories were scarce and starvation was an actual threat. 

The problem is that calories are no longer scarce, and for most Americans, starvation is no longer a threat. Actually, most of the health conditions that are killing Americans today are a result of overeating, not under-eating. 

So how can we manage this built-in craving for carbs at a time when high-carb foods are so readily accessible and making us sick? One helpful step to take is to better understand how different types of carbs impact our metabolic health because as we mentioned earlier; not all carbs are the same.

No amount of high fructose corn syrup is good for you

According to a study that came out last year, there are some carbs that aren’t inherently bad for your metabolic health. Even though all carbs are eventually broken down into glucose, the impact that different foods have on our blood sugar levels actually varies by a pretty significant degree. 

While most carbs are broken down into glucose and quickly absorbed by our small intestine, resistant starches are a type of carb with a unique molecular makeup that prevents them from breaking down in the small intestine. Instead, these special starches are fermented in the colon and release glucose much later in digestion.  This is great news because it means that resistant starches will not cause our blood sugar to spike the way that other carbs do. 

On the other hand, processed carbs, especially ones that deliver a mix of fructose and glucose, cause the highest spikes in blood sugar when consumed. High fructose corn syrup is a heavily processed sweetener that sneaks into everything from sweet treats to tomato sauces and is made out of a blend of fructose and glucose. For this reason, carbs sweetened with high fructose corn syrup top the list of carbs you should avoid. 

The key takeaway? Not all carbs are the same. Starches like rice and potatoes are generally a better option than processed carbs. High fructose corn syrup is the worst of all carb options, and resistant starches like legumes are the best because they won’t be broken down into glucose until much later in the digestion process.

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