Thursday, May 18, 2006


In our ongoing quest for simplicity, Ed and I automatically find ourselves gravitating to natural things. To us, natural means less processed, less refined, closer to what our bodies are meant to use, be it food or drink or clothes. Natural ingredients. Natural fibers. We read labels, and usually the shorter the list of ingredients, the better.

I was intrigued, therefore, with the latest ads from 7UP which announce that their cola now has "all natural ingredients." Hmmm....a cola that's nutritious? A cola that's less processed? I had to find out. On our next trip to the grocery store, I stopped to pick up a can of 7UP and read the label. Here is their new list of ingredients:

Filtered carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, natural citric acid, natural flavors, natural potassium citrate.

Now, unless you have been under a rock somewhere, you must have heard that HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP is one of the worst things you can consume. Here is one of thousands of references on the Internet to HFCS:

Pure fructose contains no enzymes, vitamins or minerals and robs the body of its micronutrient treasures in order to assimilate itself for physiological use. While naturally occurring sugars, as well as sucrose, contain fructose bound to other sugars, high fructose corn syrup contains a good deal of “free” or unbound fructose. Research indicates that this free fructose interferes with the heart’s use of key minerals like magnesium, copper and chromium. Among other consequences, HFCS has been implicated in elevated blood cholesterol levels and the creation of blood clots. It has been found to inhibit the action of white blood cells so that they are unable to defend the body against harmful foreign invaders.

Many other companies have jumped on the "natural" bandwagon in a sneaky way, but 7UP for some reason irks me the most. It makes me wonder about two things - the ethics (or not) of the food industry, and the wisdom (or not) of the consumer. Using the word "natural" to imply "healthy" is just underhanded. There are a lot of natural things that we shouldn't eat.

The stones and pips of apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, apples and pears all contain glycosides which if eaten release potentially lethal doses of cyanide.

I guess if 7-UP put cyanide in their cans, they could still say "all natural ingredients." No thanks. I love to drink Coke, although I try to limit it because I know it's bad for me - but I'll stick with a cola that doesn't use this form of misleading advertising (although cola industry advertising still doesn't wear a halo). Let's just be frank: Coke is junk, 7UP is junk, and no amount of labeling will change that.

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