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

Posted by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 8:13 AM
  • 9 Replies

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

by Maressa Brown

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! 

More from The Stir: 10 Sweet & Strange Things About Sugar You Probably Don't Know

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?

by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 8:13 AM
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by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 9:56 AM
we dont eat ketchup, drink soda, eat banana bread or anything with macadamia nuts in it, in this house hold & we only eat 100% wheat bread, so we should be safe there but I do like my salad dressing & ten to eat alotof it in the spring and summer months. I never looked into anything but now I have a better idea of what I am looking for I probably should start.
by Amanda on Jun. 12, 2013 at 9:59 AM
We have been trying to avoid HFCS for a few years now. We still end up using some products with it, but are doing better.

We are also needing to avoid white sugar, white flour, and GMO foods. Hard to do.
by Rene on Jun. 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM

HFCS is in so much :(  I dont buy soft drinks as a rule though there is a sixpack of IBC Root Beer on a special occasion.  I stick to fruit juices mostly however sometimes when we are out I buy the kids arizona juices which have no artificial color but do have HFCS :( I dont buy premade cookies or sweet baked goods often opting to make our own instead. Breads however we do consume, usually cheap wheat bread which I am sure its in.

I drink tea with too much sugar I guess but its better than other things.

You would have to eat pretty much only whole foods to escape this monster as it really is in so much.  Recently my daughter was advised not to consume any, she was miserable:(

Here is a list I found of thins made without it, its a short list

  • Betty Crocker 7-Layer Bar(mix)


  • Northland Cranberry Juice
  • China Cola
  • Dr.Pepper(original formula)
  • Calistoga Juice Squeeze
  • Simply Orange juice products
  • Simply Lemonade
  • Tropicana OJ
  • Nestle NesQuik Chocolate Milk Mix
  • Pepperidge Farms whole grain honey oat
  • Nature's Own -Honey 7 Grain*
  • Martins Potato breads and rolls*
  • Thomas's Low Carb English Muffins
  • Thomas Hearty Grain Honey Wheat English Muffins (?)
  • Nature's Own -Healthline SugarFree Wholewheat
  • Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain breads (in freezer section)
  • Francisco Sour Dough bread
  • Pepperidge Farm Honey Wheatberry
  • Milton's Wheat and Multi-grain bread
Breakfast Cereals
  • Post Grape-Nuts*
  • Life Cereal/Cinnamon Life
  • Quaker Oatmeal
  • albertsons brand cheerios
  • albertsons brand rice chex
Breakfast Pasteries


  • Lindt Lindor truffles (balls)
  • Heinz organic tomato ketchup*
  • French's Worcestershire*
  • Farman's pickle relish
  • Mt. Olive Hamburger dill chips*
Cookies and Cakes
  • Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
  • WalMart Great Value Saltines*
  • Brown Cow vanilla yogurt
  • Southern Home Nonfat Plain Yogurt*
  • Dannon Plain Yogurt*
Drink Mixers

Fruits and Vegetables - Canned

  • Motts Natural (No Sugar Added)Apple Sauce
Ice Cream
  • Breyers - All Natural Coffee*
  • Breyers - All Natural Cherry Vanilla*
  • Breyers - All Natural Mint Chocolate Chip*
  • Luigi Italian Ice
Jam, Jelly, Syrup, Spreads
  • Skippy Peanut Butter
  • Karo Dark (with Blue label)*
  • Karo Brown Sugar syrup



Salad Dressings

  • Great Value (WalMart) Zesty Italian Dressing*
  • Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise*
  • HIdden Valley Ranch Old Fash.Buttermilk*
  • Blue Plate Mayonnaise
  • Ken's Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing
  • Ken's Steak House HOney Teriyaki Marinade*
  • Kikkoman Soy Sauce*
  • Ragu OldWorld Traditional Spaghetti Sauce*


  • Frito's corn chips
  • Orville Redenbacher's Smart Cakes Caramel*
by Gold Member on Jun. 12, 2013 at 10:28 AM

 There is a real boom around here of buying Coke that has been imported from Mexico, because they use cane sugar rather than HFCS.  You can buy it by the flat at Costco.

I know I should avoid it, but I don't really check for it, if I'm being honest.  I try to cook from scratch mostly, and we only drink soda on occasion.  So, I don't think we are consuming a lot of it.

by Emerald Member on Jun. 12, 2013 at 6:58 PM
2 moms liked this
HFCS are bad!

Thanks Obama!
Scaramucci: ‘I’m not trying to suck my own c**k like Steve Bannon’
Yesterday at 8:31 PM
by Emerald Member on Jun. 12, 2013 at 10:10 PM
1 mom liked this

I love you!

Thanks Obama!

Quoting Billiejeens:

HFCS are bad!

Thanks Obama!

by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 10:14 PM

I don't eat any of that kind of junk my kids personality changes when they get these things in their food even one bite will send them into a whining tantrum throwing nasty little monster who kick and fight and scream for NO reason its scary and not something i ever want to put them through again so I read every label so that they dont get this stuff. Its terrible and watch out for the other names of basically the same thing like maltodextrin I find that in a lot of "organic" and "fresh" and "all natural" products its scary how hard it can be to find real food in a grocery store.

by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 10:31 PM

I do agree with the article. My DH & I gave up soda about 2 months ago. I was only maybe twice a week soda drinker but he was at least 20-40 oz a day regular Pepsi drinker. It wasn't hard for me to give it up but he was actually going through what I would say looked like withdrawal effects. He felt horrible. Headaches, lethargic, just felt blah. And neither of us think he was sick, we feel it was going off the Pepsi. Since he's gone soda free he feels great! We drink iced tea or water and we both feel better. It took a good two weeks for the cravings to subside. We eat very little HFCS. Probably the most we eat comes from condiments (ketchup, BBQ, dressings, etc). I make all of our own bread, tortillas, buns, rolls and such. I cook almost everything from scratch and what I don't, I always check labels for HFCS and when possible buy or go without. 

by Socialist Hippie on Jun. 12, 2013 at 10:52 PM

HFCS is nasty- to be avoided at all costs.

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