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The sweet modern diet
Our society has dramatically changed over time, for good and for bad. We certainly have developed amazing technology, we have surpassed boundaries that years ago were thought to be hard to reach, but we have also promoted environmental changes and the appearance of new diseases that are currently putting at stake not only the health of the population but also the economy and development of many countries worldwide.
Some of these diseases are strongly related with our life style, which is nowadays characterized by the consumption of highly processed foods, sugary drinks and a lack of physical exercise. Who would have thought that in just a few years more than 60% of adults in the U.S. and Europe would be considered to be obese? As a consequence of this, people are suffering from chronic diseases that are both expensive and detrimental, such as diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases.
Diet is extremely important in these cases and it seems that soda and other soft beverages play a major role in the problem.
What are soft beverages made of?
Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas, energetic beverages, teas and juices, are mainly sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)and glucose. Fructose is the natural sugar that is found in fruits and because it tastes sweeter than glucose, HFCS was developed to be used as a sweetener in the 1960’s.
Depending on the fructose content, HFCS can be 55% fructose/45% glucose, which is mainly used to sweeten sugary drinks and ice cream; or it can be 42% fructose/58% glucose, mainly present in baked food, canned fruit and dairy products.
The calories that you get from HFCS are considered to be “empty calories”.
Unfortunately, according to a study performed in several brands of soft beverages, labels don´t always say the actual content of added sweeteners that the drink contains. The study showed that, for example, 12 ounces of Coke contained 38 grams of sugar, instead of the 30 grams that the company indicates in the label.