If feeding your children healthy snacks is high on your priority list, it’s time to start reading those labels – and if you haven’t been introduced to glucose, fructose, and the mixture of the two, you’ll definitely want to familiarize yourself. Glucose and fructose are both carbohydrates and simple sugars, AKA monosaccharides, which are found in most foods. They also happen to be the chief source of energy for the human body.
Although your child’s body needs these carbohydrates, there are certain ingredient mixtures, and especially syrups, to stay away from. Glucose-fructose syrup (high fructose corn syrup) is a tricky ingredient that conveniently convinces your mind that you need to devour more of that particular food. It neglects to stimulate the insulin in the body that sends out that signal which tells your mind that you are full, as most carbohydrates will.
The Bad Carb Snacks
Surprisingly enough, there is a plethora of manufactured foods that include the “bad carbs” – and, up until now, you probably thought that many were good for your kids!
Many sugary grain cereals, baked goods from the grocery bakery, crackers, instant oatmeal, instant pastas and rice and granola include the glucose-fructose combo. That tasty cup of chocolate milk, the “healthy” yogurt that is flavored or contains fruit at the bottom of the cup and some frozen yogurts are also glucose-fructose culprits. In addition, many of the foods that are commercially processed and then sweetened with sugar, like breakfast bars and fruit snacks, will contain fructose and glucose.
Let’s not forget the drinks that are filled with the sugars: fruit juices, sweetened iced tea, sports drinks, milk shakes and smoothies! (And, that sweetened coffee for the parents.)
Not All Carbs are Bad
You simply cannot avoid consuming glucose and fructose, as you will find one or the other in most foods, including the “true” healthy snacks. If you really want to treat your children to healthy snacks, feeding them complex carbohydrates like whole-grain cereals and breads, brown rice, fruits and veggies and low-fat dairy is the way to go. Snacks with added sugar are essentially the big no-no’s.
These complex carbohydrates fill the body up faster, break down slower in the body, are high in fiber and also come jam-packed with other vital vitamins and minerals, like iron, the B vitamins and magnesium. Studies are constantly being conducted to gather info on the effects that glucose-fructose has on the human body. Heart health, kidney health, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity are just some of the issues that the bad sugars can cause.
Be sure to read the labels on foods that are purchased at the store. Look for the words “high fructose corn syrup”, “glucose fructose syrup” and “HFSC” and shy away from the packages that reveal they contain these ingredients.