Sugar Free! Fat Free!

Too Good to Be True? These label claims can be true—and still deceive you into believing that the product inside is healthful. Health officials recommend using fats sparingly so fat-free sounds great. But examine the label, especially the calorie count—many fat-free products have replaced flavor-giving fat with sugar. Manufacturers gain sales, while you gain ounces, inches and cavities.

Sugar-free should also carry a warning flag. Diet soft drinks, for example, don’t contain the sugar of regular sodas, but the acids in them can weaken tooth enamel. While your saliva helps neutralize those acids, it can’t win the war. Rinse your mouth with water after any soda—diet or not.

Thirty years ago, food processors began using High Fructose Corn Syrup as a replacement for sugar. HFCS increases a food’s shelf life, prevents microbiological growth and tastes great. It’s now found in sliced bread, and in bacon, beer, pasta sauce and health food products—almost everything!

Recent studies have implicated HFCS in heart disease, adult-onset diabetes and obesity. It increases the risk of blood clotting and may even accelerate aging.

When you consume HFCS your brain does not react in the same way that it does to real sugar—you don’t feel full. So you drink a thirty-ounce soda, full of HFSC, and your brain doesn’t register you’re over the top. You blimp out!

With our per capita intake of all sugar at 150 pounds a year, more than one-third of that as HFCS, most of us could build improve health and appearance simply by cutting back on added sugar in all its forms. Instead of reaching for the fat-free or sugar-free item select regular products and try limiting your portions.

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