Last month I was lucky to participate in The Iowa CORNucopia Tour. You can read about my itinerary on the tour HERE. As I mentioned before, this trip was fully paid for and hosted by the Iowa Corn Growers Association. On day two of our trip, we had a nutritional question and answer session with Dr. Ruth MacDonald. Dr. MacDonald is professor and chair of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University. Here are some of the interesting facts that were conveyed to us in the discussion:
- High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS is the equivalent of table sugar, nutritionally, chemically and functionally. The body recognizes it just as it recognizes sugar. HFCS is a cheaper product than sugar and lowers the cost of sweetening certain kinds of foods and beverages.
- Organic products are not always nutritionally better for you and organic foods are not all pesticide and chemical free. Click HERE for a USDA list of what is allowed and prohibited.
- The US food safety system works as well or better than most other countries.
- There is no proven health risk from using artificial sweeteners.
- Too many trans fats can cause health problems. Most food companies have taken these out of their products so it is no longer an issue.
- One of the best things you can do in regards to healthy nutrition is to read labels on products.
- Frozen and canned vegetables could have just as many or possibly more nutrients in them as fresh vegetables.
- Moderation in diet and exercising is the key to weight control and avoiding obesity.
Quite recently, there has been much controversy and concerns about high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, whether our food is safe for our population, obesity in children, organic versus non organic and cancer risks from consuming certain foods. This nutrition session really gave me a push to do more research about all these issues. I went on sites such as the the USDA, the FDA, the Mayo Clinic, and the National Cancer Institute. Research has proven that all of the above facts are true. I am glad to have gained this knowledge as I feel good about the food I feed my family. This also made me realize how lucky I am to live in a country with a safe food system in place.
I am a foodie so I love to eat. Most of the time I try to eat a balanced diet and include exercise in my lifestyle. I really believe moderation is key. Do I eat junk food? Absolutely! I am sure you could find many products in my house filled with sugar and high fructose corn syrup. I use artificial sweeteners in my coffee every morning and you might even be able to find a box of cookies or frosting in my pantry that contains trans fats. Do I buy organic? Sometimes I do but other times I don't want to pay the extra dollar for a bag of produce. I make sure my kitchen is filled with healthy snacks such as fruits, veggies, whole grain crackers, low fat cheese, hummus and yogurt. For every high calorie snack that I let my kids have, I want to make sure there is two to three healthy ones in their diet. I am glad the food industry allows consumers to have so many choices. Because as you probably already know, I LOVE it all!
Feel free to comment on any of the above information. I will also gladly answer any questions you might have either through email or the comment section. In the coming weeks, you will hear from me again about all that I learned on my corn tour adventure.