The One Ingredient That Shouldn't Be In The Bbq Sauce You're Eating

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BBQ aficionados are passionate about their food. Everything from the cut of meat to its preparation is open to scrutiny. Few things are as heavily debated, however, as the merits of various BBQ sauces. Different states, even different cities, have their own signature flavors. Furthermore, that's not even getting into the differences that develop from one chef to the next.

The variety of BBQ flavors aren't surprising given the practice's history. As the Tennessee State Museum explains, BBQ is an amalgamation of multiple cultures from all over the world. The practices, flavors, and processes came together to form one of America's most celebrated cultural traditions.

This blending of cultures came along with a blending of spices and that shows in the wide range of BBQ sauces available today. Even "original" BBQ sauce can vary wildly from one chef to the next. When it comes to the bottled sauce sold in stores, it varies from one maker to the next. However, there is one ingredient that shows up in the processed versions that didn't come from the cuisine's cultural roots, and it's an ingredient you may want to avoid.

Sweetener hits a sour note

It's nearly impossible to find one recipe for the definitive original BBQ sauce recipe. The practice grew throughout the American South and pulled heavily on multiple cultures and sources. Ultimately this gave rise to an American tradition as rich in flavor as it is in variety. Homemade sauces can be the pride and joy of an entire region. But, for most people, the bottled version is their go-to, if only for the sake of simplicity.

Unfortunately, simplicity comes with a little bit of baggage. When it comes to BBQ sauce, that baggage is high fructose corn syrup. It's the very first ingredient in Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (via Amazon) and the second ingredient in KC Masterpiece's sauce (via Target). It doesn't appear in all sauces, however. Bull's-Eye BBQ sauce, for instance, uses molasses instead. When it does appear, however, consumers should be wary.

High fructose corn syrup might seem like just another sweetener, but as Dr. Mark Hyman told the Cleveland Clinic, it's processed differently by the body. Only our liver can process high fructose corn syrup, which kicks off a process Dr. Hyman calls "a fat production factory." It also drives up cholesterol and can affect a person's blood sugar, particularly if they already struggle to control it. The next time you're craving some BBQ, grab a sauce that skips the high fructose corn syrup.