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Delane Cleveland, 12 News
June 2, 2016
Burgers and brats are a common sight at a backyard barbecue. You're also likely to find buns, condiments and soft drinks nearby. But take a close look at their nutrition labels, and you'll find that they all contain the sweetener, high fructose corn syrup.
"Studies show that in 2014, the average American was consuming about 27 pounds of high fructose corn syrup per year," said Brenna Thompson, a registered and licensed dietitian from Nutritional Weight & Wellness in Maple Grove. "There is new research coming out showing that high fructose corn syrup specifically can turn on specific genes in our brain that then can slow our metabolism."
In addition, she says the sweetener can also put people at risk for neurological diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
"The high fructose corn syrup, the new studies are really just showing that that alters these genes in our brain in their own specific way, in ways that glucose or sucrose do not," Thompson said.
That said, Thompson isn't suggesting we back off on the barbecues. Instead, she says people should look to make healthy substitutions.
"Looking for buns for your hamburgers, your hot dogs, that do not contain high fructose corn syrup," she said.
Or you could rid yourself of the bun altogether. For a hamburger, you could use a Portobello mushroom. For a hot dog, you could replace the bun with a lettuce wrap.
"So now we've just completely gotten rid of that [high fructose corn syrup] and we're using real food," she said..
As for condiments, she says it's a matter of reading nutrition labels and making the right choices.
"Looking at things like your ketchup, your pickle relish, your BBQ sauces. Look for brands that aren't using high fructose corn syrup," she said.
As for drinks, Thompson suggests laying off the soda and mixing pomegranate juice with sparkling water.
"Just change slowly over time," Thompson said. "Start going through your pantry and start identifying what foods you have that you want to swap out."
Meanwhile, the Corn Refiners Association argues that while high fructose corn syrup contributes to calories in the diet, there is no scientific evidence that the sweetener is a unique contributor to obesity or diabetes.