There is a secret ingredient lurking in almost everything you eat. Unless you are a self-proclaimed nutrition guru, you most likely consume a food or beverage with high fructose corn syrup everyday.

High fructose corn syrup sweetens products from soda - nutritionally dubbed "liquid satan" - to whole-wheat bread. The syrup, even saturating what seem like non-threatening items including ketchup, is one of the main contributors to the nation's struggle with obesity. And surprisingly, one of the least talked about.

Sugar is not a diet sabotage in its raw form. It comes from a sugar cane plant and, when digested moderately in this mode, is not that bad for your body. But American food manufacturers are clever and cost-efficient. They have toyed with ways to strip sugar from its natural state and refine the sweetener to become a syrup-like substance. Subsequently, sugar-loaded foods have poor nutritional value and a lot of fat.

High fructose dominated the sweetener market in the 1980s, immediately replacing traditional forms for its affordability and effectiveness. It masks the chemical flavor in Coca-Cola, enhances the addicting taste in cookies and even hides in yogurt, a food marketed as a healthy snack.

Not only does this sweetener pack on pounds, but it also affects your mood. Ever wonder why after you chug a Big Gulp you experience a sugar high followed by a massive headache, energy drop and lash-outs to friends?

This is the dangerous magic of the corn syrup at work. It hooks your taste buds, leaving you to crave more, even when it makes you feel like crap.

Consumers must also be cautioned about the long-term effects. Studies have directly linked the artificial syrup to diabetes (a surging health crisis in our country), caloric overload and unhealthy eating habits. Fructose, a simple sugar, fails to activate the brain's trigger to alert you that your stomach is satiated.

It doesn't end there.

More recently, high fructose corn syrup has shown a relationship with colon cancer in women. What wonderful news.

If you truly want to avoid the sweetener, don't rely on food labels stating they are 100 percent natural. 7UP tried to do this years ago despite high fructose topping its list of ingredients.

Read the nutrition labels on the foods you eat and show food manufacturers that they can no longer sugar-coat foods as "healthy" if you prefer to rid the devilish syrup from your diet.