sweeteners

  1. High-fructose corn syrup is worse than sugar

    Whatever they call it, HFCS is still bad for you

    For once, common sense has prevailed at the FDA as the agency rejected a cynical attempt to hide one of the most dangerous additives in the modern diet.

    High-fructose corn syrup is the one sweetener that's actually worse for you than sugar. As people catch on, they're looking to avoid it -- and that's why the corn industry is trying to hide it by changing the name to "corn sugar."

    But the feds stepped in and nixed the plan -- and for good reason: Despite the industry's claim that this stuff is "nearly identical" to sugar, it's clearly not.

    And while sugar itself is pretty dangerous, there's a growing body of evidence that proves this stuff is even worse. Just take a look:

    Obesity: If you want to know why HFCS is not "nearly identical" to sugar, just take a look at how it behaves inside the body.

    In 2008, for example, Texas researchers found that HFCS is converted into fat faster than regular sugar in the human body. And in a 2010 study, Princeton researchers found that rats fed HFCS gained more weight than those given regular sugar -- even when their total calories were the same.

    In humans... well, you don't have to look very far to see the effect it has on us.

    Kidney disease: There have also been consistent links between HFCS and kidney stones and other kidney problems. In a 2008 study, for example, researchers found that people who drank two sodas a day -- the main source of HFCS for many people -- had a 40 percent higher risk of kidney damage.

    Fatty liver disease: Fructose is converted into fat in the liver, so it's not at all surprising to see studies linking HFCS consumption to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. A 2008 study on soft drink consumption found not only a link between HFCS and liver disease, but that higher levels of consumption even caused scarring in the liver.

    As the name implies, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver -- and it can lead to serious liver damage and even liver failure.

    But like I said, plain old sugar isn't exactly health food either, and manufacturers are playing name games here as well. The yogurt company Chobani is in hot water for listing sugar as "evaporated cane juice" on the label.

    Don't pick one over the other. Go sugar-free instead -- and when you need a sweetener, reach for something natural and calorie-free such as stevia or lo han.

  2. Diet soda in new health scare

    Let's face it: There's nothing "diet" about diet soda. It won't make you healthier and it won't even help you to lose weight -- and that's been proven.

    But the bad news doesn't end there. In fact, that's just the beginning.

    Diet soda has been linked to a host of frightening health risks, and a new study confirms two of the worst: People who load up on these supposedly healthy sugar-free drinks have a dramatically higher risk of a heart attack and stroke.

    Researchers tracked 2,564 New York City seniors for a decade and found that 31 percent of those who drank diet soda every day suffered a heart attack or stroke versus 22 percent of those drank little to no diet soda.

    That's an increase in risk of 49 percent, according to the data published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

    The study doesn't directly prove that diet soda is responsible -- and, in some cases, it could simply be that diet soda drinkers have worse habits.

    We all know people who eat tons of junk and then always wash it down with a Diet Coke, right?

    But there's more going on here. Diet sodas contain an ingredient that's been linked to more side effects than just about any other food additive: the artificial sweetener aspartame.

    Aspartame has been linked to high blood pressure, heart palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, sleep disorders and more. Stroke and heart attack would just be the icing on the (sugar-free) cake.

    Of course, that's not a license to drink regular soda, either, and that goes for drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup as well as the ones that scream "MADE WITH REAL SUGAR!" (as if that's somehow a badge of honor).

    All that sugar in any form is a ticket to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

    Sweeteners aren't the only lousy ingredients hidden in a can of soda either. The coloring agents in many have been linked to cancer, the preservatives can cause cell damage and many even have phosphates, which can deprive your bones of calcium and put you at risk for osteoporosis.

    And to top it off -- as if all that's not enough -- soda is generally served in containers lined with BPA, the hormone-like chemical linked to obesity, diabetes, early menopause, sexual dysfunction, heart disease, and more.

    Forget soda in all its forms. If you have to have some fizz, switch to plain old seltzer.

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