This Hidden Ingredient in Your Groceries May Be as Addictive as Cocaine

stacks of chocolate chip cookiesWhen you think of the '80s or the rave scene or addictive party-hardy celebrities, you might think of cocaine. And when you think of cocaine, do you think of ... (certain brands of) ketchup, bread, salad dressings, non-diet soda, etc.? Probbbbably not. But maybe you should. At least that's what Canadian researchers from the University of Guelph who've studied high-fructose corn syrup appear to be leaning toward with their findings.

When they fed rats foods containing varying levels of HFCS, they found that the more concentrated the syrup, the harder the rats worked to obtain it. Researchers say this reaction is "similar to those produced by drugs of abuse, such as cocaine." Whoa.


It's not hard to understand, then, why they believe that foods containing HFCS are especially addictive. And given how many foods in our supply are now laden with the stuff, it's not all that surprising that they believe it has something to do with the current global obesity epidemic. The researchers believe that this, along with past studies, offer "convincing neurobiological and behavioral evidence indicating that addiction to food is possible." And they think that dovetails well with the idea that susceptibility to addiction may be a major factor in what makes people more or less prone to obesity.

Well, yeah! I believe it! In just the past several months, I've personally felt the effects and become very aware of my own sugar addiction. A self-confessed dessert lover and baker of chocolate chip cookies, I scaled back recently as part of my pre-wedding slimdown efforts, substituting stevia for sugar more and more often until I couldn't even handle real sugar. Seriously, the gelato we served at our wedding was too sweet! Kind of a bummer! 

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But then, of course, there were chocolate-covered macadamia nuts ... and fresh-baked banana bread ... and celebratory pastries on our honeymoon in Hawaii. Just a little bit here, a little bit there ... You don't think it'll be a big deal, but before you know it, you're hooked again, and your body's looking for the next fix. Since coming home from our honeymoon, I've tried to go back to my mostly sugar-free (meaning nothing artificial and real sugar only once in a while as a special treat) existence and it's been eerily difficult! Why?! I'm positive it has to do with the addictive nature of the sweet stuff. And that's just regular sugar ... Not processed, concentrated HFCS. Oy!

All I can say is that I hope people start reading labels and demanding change. Knowledge is power. And power, at least in this case, is being able to reduce your risk of obesity and disease ... just by saying "no" to the omnipresent processed sweetener.

What do you think about this research? Do you steer clear of HFCS?

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